The tree is decorated, the stockings are hung, the Yule fire burns low and, according to an old tradition, at midnight on Christmas Eve … the animals speak.
COMET (Beagle, about age four): You think that’s Alex Trebek’s real hair?
AJAX (also a Beagle, somewhat Comet’s senior, waking): What?
C: Alex Trebek. You think that’s a hairpiece?
A: I’ll tell you who wears a piece is that Bob Barker.
C: No way!
C: I don’t watch much TV.
A: Me either. No smell. You’d think they’d make it smell.
C: You know who smelled the other night? (Names a frequent visitor.)
A: Tell me about it. Bacon and pancakes!
C: Bacon and waffles.
A: Really? I didn’t get waffles. Real maple syrup, though.
C: The best.
A: Hmm. What about this reindeer business?
A: I mean, reindeer can’t fly. Why not use birds? Birds fly.
C: It’s the North Pole. You think there are birds at the North Pole?
A: You think there are reindeer at the North Pole?
A: I’ll tell you what else: Those aren’t real squirrels.
C: What are you talking about?
A: Those little squirrels they throw around the house for you to chase. They’re not real.
C: But they fly!
A: They throw them.
C: They squeak!
A: They can make anything squeak.
C: The squirrels aren’t real? They seem so real.
C: I feel like such a fool.
A: I shouldn’t have said anything. You’re getting a couple new squirrels in your stocking. Try not to let on.
C: They seem so real.
A: That’s the spirit. And you’re probably right about the reindeer.
C: I don’t know …
A: Don’t beat yourself up. Took me three years to figure out the mailman is just a mailman.
C: Grrrr! The mailman!
A: Easy, buddy. It’s just you and me.
C: You mean the mailman’s not real either?
A: Real but harmless. Just doing his job.
C: But he shoves things at us through the door.
A: Trash. Except for Martha Stewart.
C: Love Martha Stewart!
A: Just doing his job.
C: You’re telling me the squirrels aren’t real? And the mailman is, but not to worry?
A: Merry Christmas.
C: And the FedEx guy?
A: Grrrr! The FedEx guy!
C: Just checking.