Twas the night before Christmas, Clyde was missing, and we were crying. It wasn’t the first time he’d wandered off. In fact, there were neighbors several streets over that knew his name even though we didn’t know theirs.

Clyde was half Corgi, half Sheltie and all sorts of cool to us. He did tricks, sat up, shook hands, chased kitties, loved spaghetti and cookies. In fact, whenever The Rookies came on TV he would think they were saying cookies, and get so excited we would have to give him one. Happened every time. He was one smart cookie, that Clyde.

Clyde hung out with us everywhere we went. All the neighbors, kids and parents alike, loved him. When he was planning an escape, he would walk slowly down the street. Once he reached the corner, he’d start running as fast as his wee Corgi legs would go. Look at Clyde! He’s making a break for it! Everyone would laugh and we’d ride our pink Stingray bikes around the corner and capture him before he got too far. He rode in the basket, just like Toto, that Clyde.

Well, it was one thing when we knew he was running away, but quite another when he actually made a break for it when we weren’t looking. We don’t know how it happened, he might have dug hisway out, but more than likely one of us left the side gate open. Just sayin’.

Yes, Christmas Eve was somber that year as Clyde had been gone two days. He’d never been gone that long before. We all searched and searched. We went down to the creek, combed the neighborhood, checked the pound, all to no avail. Looking back, it must have been even harder on Dad and Mom as they had to deal with their own sadness over losing Clyde as well as comfort three devastated little girls. Clyde was an important member of our family. How could we have Christmas without him?

We didn’t want to open any presents. It’s not Christmas without Clyde! There were presents galore under the tree but we truly didn’t care. If only Santa would bring Clyde home, we’d be good littlegirls, make our beds, pick up our toys before mom asked us to, and never, ever ask for anything again. Yes, it was that dramatic as it was the first time my sisters and I felt a real sense of loss.

We went to bed sad and not particularly excited that Santa was going to pay us a visit that night. God, can you please bring Clyde back to us? I promise to be good. You can have Santa deliver my presents to the poor kids, it’s okay.

I prayed and prayed and eventually fell asleep. Christmas morning brought stockings spilling over with goodies. That Santa always did make sure we felt loved. But Santa didn’t bring Clyde home to us. We cried and cried, and then we cried some more.

It’s not Christmas without Clyde! We don’t want to open our presents!  We went to the sliding glass door, looked out one more time and there he was, wagging his tail, covered in mud, and smelly.

Clyde! Oh Clyde! He’s home! You never saw a more joyous family as we were in that moment. Thank you, God! Thank you, Santa! We couldn’t get out there fast enough and hugged and hugged him. Dad went out and shut the open gate and Mom brought him in for a bath.

A bath? But we want to open our presents! There was no way Clyde was coming in the house covered in mud and smelling like the creek.

Clyde? Presents? Presents? Clyde? Mom gave Clyde a bath after we opened our presents.

The only present I remember receiving that year was Clyde. And in reading this, you may think we were ungrateful brats, but that wasn’t the case. We had our priorities straight and innately knew that family was more important than the presents under the tree. Had we remembered those priorities in the first place, the gate might not have been left open.

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