Sadi didn’t care about her bottom being cold. Sitting in front of the Christmas tree, even on the chilly tile floor, in her blue nightgown made her happy. Staring at the decorations on the tree was the best way to start a day. The lights glittered over the green branches and bounced off shiny red and gold balls hanging on the limbs. A few colorful packages crowded together underneath the tree. There would be more presents after Santa came in two days. Her stomach tickled just thinking about Christmas.
Xena snuggled against her left leg, snoring like some old dogs do. Sadi scrubbed her knuckles over the top of Xena’s golden-brown head, then rubbed at the loose skin around her neck.
“Aren’t the lights pretty?” she whispered to the dog. She tried to be quiet because Dad always slept in on Saturday, and she didn’t want to wake him. But Xena didn’t care about the tree or being quiet. She was always quiet. Except for her snore. Which could get pretty loud.
Gabby’s white-whiskered snout rested on Sadi’s right leg. Gabby sighed and rubbed her white chin against Sadi’s leg. The tree lights twinkled in the old girl’s eyes. Gabby didn’t sleep quite as much as her sister, Xena. Right now, she was content to stare at the tree with Sadi.
Sadi giggled. “You’re my good old doggie.”
Xena’s ear twitched, but she didn’t lift an eyelid.
Gabby’s big, watery eyes looked up at Sadi.
“Yes, I love you too, Gabs, but…” Sadi heaved a gigantic sigh.
Only one thing in the entire world would make this Christmas better. She wished for a puppy under the tree when she woke up Christmas morning. A wiggly, tiny ball of fur that would run and play and snuggle and play some more. A puppy that was all hers to love. Would Santa bring her one? She sighed. Not much hope. Dad said Santa didn’t deal in animals.
Which meant she had to rely on her parents to get her the puppy. But Mom and Dad kept saying she wasn’t grown up enough to take care of a puppy. Oh my gosh, she was eight years old! That was plenty grown enough to have a puppy. In fact, she’d be nine in three months, and that was practically ten. Ten was double digit old.
Only two more days until Christmas…
Wait! Maybe it wasn’t too late to prove to her parents she could take care of a puppy. She jumped up. Her hand bumped an ornament that flew off the tree. She caught it just before it hit the floor. Whew! Hurrying, she hooked it on a branch. Xena barely opened one eye. Gabby sat with her head tilted to one side wondering what Sadi was up to.
She darted around the corner and into the kitchen where Mom dipped a tea bag in a cup of hot water. Dad stood by the counter, waiting for his coffee to brew, and scratched his chest. Why was he up so early on a Saturday? He usually slept in at least an hour on the weekend.
“Good morning, Daddy. What are you doing?”
His mouth opened wide in a yawn. “Hmm? Oh, just having coffee.”
“Would you like some tea, Sadi?” Mom asked.
“Maybe after I feed Xena and Gabby.”
“Since when do you feed the dogs?”
“I can, you know. You just always do it sooner.” Mom alwaysfed the two old ladies. Mom and Dad had Xena and Gabby since before she was born. Sadi loved the girls, but she really wanted a puppy. The old dogs didn’t run and play or jump for balls. Mostly, they lay on the sofa and slept. “I’ll feed them today.” She could prove she was old enough to take care of a puppy.
Mom gave Dad a funny face, like they shared a joke. “Now?” Mom asked Dad.
“Let me wake up.” Dad rubbed his eyes. “I need coffee. I may need lots of coffee.”
Something was weird with these two this morning, but she didn’t have time to figure it out.
Sadi tugged the fridge door open, then stretched her arms up to slide the bowl of doggie stew off the shelf. After breakfast, she’d brush the girls. They’d see she was entirely capable of caring for a puppy.
Mom grabbed the dogs’ feeding dishes off the floor.
“I can do it.” Her voice squealed, but she had to feed Xena and Gabby without any help.
“Okay.” Mom set the dishes back on the floor, then left the kitchen.
“Xena! Gabby! Are you hungry?” She set the dishes on the counter, dragged the step stool against the cabinet, and stepped up.
The dogs plodded into the kitchen. Xena stood beside her, gazing upward, staring at the bowl on the sink. Gabby stopped short, looked at her, then looked toward the doorway. She blinked.
“I’m feeding you today, girl. We don’t need Mom. Honest.”
Gabby just blinked again as if she wasn’t sure if this was good or bad for her.
While Sadi scooped the doggie stew with the silver measuring cup, whispering came from the living room. She paused scooping to listen.
Xena whined deep in her throat.
“Shh, Xena.” Why were her parents whispering? Weird. What was up with them today?
Xena shifted from foot to foot and whined again.
“Okay, okay.” She finished putting food in the bowls and carried the dishes to the mat, then replaced the stew in the fridge.
“Sadi, when you’re done come in here,” Mom called from the living room.
“I’m going to brush them when they’re done eating.” She raised her voice, hoping she sounded grown up and in control.
“Come in here first.” Dad sounded more awake.
Uh-oh. What could they want? She couldn’t be in trouble. They hadn’t been awake that long. All she’d done was stare at the tree. Well, okay, she knocked off a bulb, but she got it back on. That’s no big deal. She put most of them on the tree in the first place. Besides she hardly ever got into trouble.
Heart pounding, she peeked around the corner. Her parents were smiling. That was a good sign. She skipped in and stood between the chairs. “I’m here. What?”
“We’ve decided to give you one of your Christmas presents early.” Mom’s smile practically split her face in half.
Sadi glanced around the room. No presents anywhere except under the tree. “You want me to pick one from under the tree?” Opening presents was always fun. Were they rewarding her for feeding the dogs?
“No, no.” Dad sipped more coffee, then looked at Mom. “Go ahead. You tell her.”
“We’re going to go pick out a puppy today. For you!”
“What?” Did she hear right? Her mouth went dry. She could barely swallow. “Like a real live puppy?” She croaked the question.
“Of course a real puppy!” Mom clapped her hands.
Sadi jumped up and down. “Yay!” She ran around the chairs and jumped some more. “Yay! Yay!” She grabbed her mom and hugged her tight. “Thank you!” She ran to her dad and hugged him hard, then stared into his face. “I would’ve fed the dogs a long time ago if I’d known it would get me a puppy.”
Dad sputtered his coffee down his shirt, laughing.
“This is going to be the best day ever in the entire world.”