It was shady and cool hiding under the shrubs outside in the garden this Christmas morning, and it was fun spying into the house watching everyone going round and round in circles and in different directions. Molly fussed tirelessly preparing Xmas lunch and I stopped counting after one hundred the number of times she opened and closed the fridge and the oven and the pantry doors. Her slaving in the kitchen was making me dizzy. And even though the sliding door was closed to the outside, I could still smell the mind- bending aroma of turkey cooking. When the in laws arrived just after midday, I ran from the back around to the front door to greet them along with everyone else and Molly told her nieces it was OK to let me come inside, it was already getting hot and I needed a drink of water. Everyone yelled Merry Christmas and hugged and kissed on their way towards kitchen dining room and my tail remained upright as I counted twenty-five pats and ten scratches from the two girls and two boys within fifteen minutes. I must admit, I love Christmas to, even though it takes everyone ages to get organized, and I am the last one on the list to get any decent attention. I get presents and food that I don’t get all year. This year was a new scratcher and brush, and tons of top of the range tins of beef stroganoff. Yum!
My tail fell flat however an hour into the cousins visiting. I watched Deidre, Molly’s sister-in-law push Molly at the kitchen at the sink. “What the hell?” I ran out from under the table and tried to make Deidre trip over. Deidre didn’t kick me in return but she gave me a look a dog never forgets. “Blacky” she yelled far louder than was necessary for me to hear “what the hell, get lost.” I remembered passed conversations amongst humans in this house discussing how peoples’ voices get really loud after drinking too much of a liquid called alcohol. Deidre was holding a big glass of the stuff if I wasn’t mistaken. Molly quickly grabbed some ham from a plate on the bench top and coerced me back under the table. I thanked her very much and told her a hundred times how much I loved her. But I was still watching Deidre. Half way through my ham, Deidre pushed Molly out of the way again, and I stopped dead in my tracks, it put right off my food. “I’ve got my eyes on you” I growled at Deidre, but she didn’t seem to hear me. No one else saw the pushing and shoving and I worried heaps why all the nastiness toward Molly this year. Molly was always so wonderful on Christmas day, made a beautiful job of everything. The food always smelled wonderful, as it did this year, and the table looked gorgeous. She was always quiet and tried so hard every year to make sure everyone had a great time. Stan and Deidre don’t come round much during other times of the year, so I don’t know them very well but I didn’t think they were trouble for Molly. Maybe.
“Sit down!” yelled Stan, his face turning red. My ears pricked from under the dining table and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. It was 1.30pm and Steve was now the one yelling at his sister- in-law for standing at the kitchen sink. From where I was sitting and watching, Molly didn’t look like she was doing anything wrong, just grabbing the last bowl of food needed to be placed at the table, but it aggravated Stan for some reason. I couldn’t understand Stan, as far as I was concerned the more food on the table the better. Molly wiped her white face and trembling hands and got to the table asap. She said nothing as she sat. Whatever the exact issue Stan had with Molly it soon brushed over though and it didn’t dampen his appetite for her cooking either. Eating was done almost in total silence excepting the odd appreciative groan escaping all at the table, except from Molly. She chewed small amounts very slowly. Everyone became chirpy eventually though when Stan finally initiated the bob bon pulling ritual and I thought this was my cue to lick a few toes under the table to get some attention. I kept poking my head out from under my hide out hoping maybe Molly would finally place some food on a paper plate for me to, but she didn’t budge, and the look on her face, I just couldn’t read it. She remained motionless. I am not sure she even pulled a bon bob with anyone, not even with Daniel or Jeremy, either of her two teenaged sons. No matter how many times I curled up around her legs giving her the best hugs and kisses I could, I couldn’t get her attention, couldn’t make her eyes meet mine. The last time I remember Molly acting like this was when Rob her husband walked out the door for ages. She looked pale and listless despite the summer warmth.
“I want more beer” Stan was staring directly at Molly. His cold eyes made my body tense. Molly obliged Stan quickly. “Don’t need the bloody glasses, the bottle will do” the volume was too loud for my comfort and I crept out from under the table and sat beside Molly. Deidre then suggests everyone go and sit in the lounge room and have a rest, and maybe play some games whilst Molly tidies up. Deidre grabbed her big glass and refilled before getting up and sauntering off. The others followed, except for Stan. “Molly! we’re going outside for a water fight later, can’t wait to water bomb you” Stan laughed so loud his throat dried up and coughed. I stood up and slowly paced over to Stan, “if you so much as touch her Mate, I will put a hole in your arse so big you wont be able to sit down for a month.”