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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Holiday Happiness Scottie-Style



Our two Scottish terriers love all holiday celebrations. With names like Misha and Grisha, any opportunity to celebrate their origins such as during Christmas, with tartan, tartan everywhere, is a real treat.


(Not that we can actually say the word “treat” within a 20-mile radius of those tufted ears. We need to always spell “t-r-e-a-t” or “Do you think they want to go o-u-t?” But who are we kidding? Our little guys have become master spellers, the only qualifying 25-pound participants in the National Spelling Bee.)


These two love to sport their plaid Christmas collars with jingle bells and pose for the puparazzi paparazzi this time of year. Normally not ones to hold still, they now tilt their noble heads just-so, straight-on, beautiful black beards obscuring their holiday finery, defeating the whole purpose of our dress-up game. Stubbornness is their strong suit. Thankfully, it runs in the family.


As would be expected for all family members, Misha and Grisha enjoy Christmas stockings. Theirs are tiny red and green velvet ones, with tartan trim. Stuffed with rock-hard chewy treats, advertised as hard enough to last seven hours in the jaws of a shark who’s been on Weight Watchers one day too long, our boys immediately sniff the fare while they are still sealed tight in their cellophane wrappers.


5:00 am – “Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Misha begins his yawn-speak, glancing plaintively from me, to the stockings, and back again. Grisha the smaller, does his characteristic low, happy growl, tail wagging, indicating he wants to play NOW, and would I please pay attention? Both boys will not budge from their guard positions immediately below the stockings.


“Okay, okay,” I acquiesce. Just when I have the kids trained not to get up before dawn on Christmas morning, the Scotties do.


Each has his own method of savoring the pre-breakfast zakuski. Grisha does his silly-snarl, dropping to his belly, and starting to devour the bone-like product post-haste. Misha, our bigger baby, accepts his delicacy gingerly, then tosses it back to us, while leaping in the air and pouncing in its direction, demanding that we play.


Our own morning coffee can wait, they let us know in no uncertain terms.


Even with their meal-and-a-show antics, the highly overrated, nearly-indestructible treats are gone in ten minutes, and fifteen minutes, flat. Those are our shark-toothed Scotties!


9:00 am – After breakfast and Scripture reading, the family opens Christmas presents, and the pair of them insist on presiding over the festivities, sniffing each present from top to bottom, ensuring that none are wayward gifts destined for their consumption. A lot of the time is spent on their hind legs like dancing bears, peering over the edge of the large living room coffee table, thoroughly tiring both them and us as we try to keep from them any wadded-up ball of wrapping paper, and definitely any chocolates. Problem is, they feel entitled to all of it.


12:00 noon – This year they’re doing better with the Christmas tree. Once upon a time, it made them feel that they were out in the snowy wilds and they would sidle up to it, getting in position to lift a leg.


“Stop!!!” we’d scream, forgetting that the proper command form should probably be along the lines of “No!” Scooping them up, we reinforced the idea of doing their business outside.


But Misha has a long-standing connection with Christmas trees, coming to us just four years prior, curled up in a big basket with a bow, sitting under the tree, my present par excellence. He would poke the lower branches with his nose, sure that the tree was fighting back, and eliciting many baby barks.


2:00 pm – Exhausted from overseeing the opening of gifts, now they sit on the sofa, sleepy-dreamy Scottie eyes half-opened, gazing at the sparkling tree, enjoying the view, waiting contentedly for the family dinner when some little bits of meat, potato, and gravy will no doubt make it their way. It’s no haggis and iron ale, but a nice break from the usual vegetarian gruel.


5:00 pm – The snowflakes start fast and furious, big and wet, and really sticking. Misha and Grisha leap and romp outside, noses piled high with snow, long, silky hair matting into defined, icy dreadlocks. The abominable snowmen are defrosted with the help of my hairdryer and several children rubbing them down with towels.


7:00 pm – A family film finds all of us piled together, Misha sandwiched inbetween myself and Benedetto, Grisha up on the back of the couch, acting as my husband’s headrest. The two Scotties are our cuddly and content Christmas angels, taking a nap before they rouse themselves to turn in for the night. Life is good.


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