Updated: Dec 19, 2022
December 18th: Pick-a-Pet
For a town with a population just over 5,000, Christmas had a surprising number of homeless animals. Christmas, Sasha, and Leah were wet and dirty in the back of the shelter, helping to wash and dry dogs. It was like an assembly line. While Christmas and Leah bathed the dogs, Sasha dried off a finished one with a towel, then passed it along to Mrs. Winslow who went at the excited animals with a hair dryer. That done, they moved along to Mr. Winslow, who gave them each a bow.
As she washed the dogs, Christmas got a small twinge of satisfaction at watching Marcy struggle with putting bows on the cats. The rich girl, obviously disgusted at having to do this year after year, fortunately had little say in the matter. Mr. Gale wouldn’t hear of her skipping out on it. Christmas knew Marcy had also gone away to school in Northern Michigan, and she wondered why she didn’t just come after all the jobs she hated doing were over. Likely, this too had something to do with her father.
Right now, Marcy was having particular trouble with a feisty cat, who was not at all happy about the bow and was hissing his displeasure at Marcy for her repeated attempts to put it around his neck. Christmas finished rinsing her current dog, a friendly little thing, and passed him along to Sasha. The cheerful dog wagged his tail as she toweled him off, then sent him on to the hair dryer, which he was not as fond of.
The entire process took up the morning, after which the four girls finished decorating the shelter for the coming visitors. Christmas set a stack of animal gifts next to the front door, through which people would file, and then take the gifts to give to the animals. It was silly, and it was cute, just as most things were in Christmas at Christmas.
The pick-a-pet was another well-known tradition and was just as popular in the area. For a month before the event, Mrs. Winslow was advertising it on the town’s website, and even traveling to nearby towns and cities to post flyers. The woman’s dedication to placing pets in homes was admirable, she thought. Christmas, herself, had resisted the repeated attempts of Mrs. Winslow to get her to adopt for many years.
Just after nine, the doors of the shelter opened to the public and Christmas could already tell that Mrs. Winslow’s advertising had been successful. At least two dozen vehicles were already outside, waiting. Leah and Christmas stood by the doors and welcomed in singles, couples, and parents with children, both local and out-of-towners. Each of them received a present, and either Marcy, Julia, or Carry would show them toward the back of the shelter.
The sounds of happy dogs barking reached them at the front throughout the day. Mrs. Winslow would occasionally fill out paperwork at the desk with an adoptee, and then the new owner would leave with a rescued pet. Each time it happened, Christmas felt a small glow and a brief pang of sadness. Having spent the entire morning around all the dogs, it was difficult not to like them all. Each year she’d done this, it was also a struggle not to take one home. The happy tails wagging as the dogs were carried out or walked away on leashes, wearing the bows and carrying a toy in their mouths, or the meowing of cheerful cats, was just another little reason that she found to love her home.
The event lasted into the early evening, before the influx of people had died away. The shelter had sent thirty animals to new homes and Mrs. Winslow was ebullient. Even Marcy looked happy about the result. Mrs. Winslow, before closing the shelter for the night, signed papers for one further adoption, and Christmas watched as Marcy left with the troublesome cat.
“I guess troublesome pussy attracts troublesome pussy,” Leah muttered, and Sasha giggled.
The three of them left together and drove back into town. They met Brad in town for a quick dinner, before walking down Main to Christmas Tree Grove to light their tree. A light snow fell as they chattered and nodded to passersby along the sidewalks. The entire town was alight with color and life. Visitors and locals both, old friends and new, strolled the sidewalks and dined in the restaurants. Through the shop windows, she saw lines of gift buyers supporting the town with purchases.
No matter how many times she walked down this street, in the heat of summer, the rain of spring, the chill of autumn, or the cold of winter, there was a feeling of warmth and invitation. There might be chaos in the rest of the world, just as there had been chaos and distance in the big city, but here in Christmas there was friendship and… family.
“You know I love you guys, right?” she blurted, and took Sasha and Leah’s hands, then looked over her shoulder at Brad and said, “You’re alright, too.”
He grinned. The three of them swung their hands back and forth.
“Yeah,” Sasha said, “There’s nothing like Christmas in Christmas, especially when you get to spend it with Christmas.”
“Are we, like, gonna go lez out together now?” Leah asked.
“I don’t love you that much,” Christmas said, “But I’d totally let you do me.”
“You three are gonna melt the snow with that talk,” Brad cut in.
Christmas stuck out her tongue at him. They entered Christmas Tree Grove, where Brad refused to light their tree without a proper drumroll. They relented and watched him plug in the lights, then clapped as it lit up in the dark, alongside the others.
They walked among the trees, looking at the work of all the other participants. The Tree Festival had drawn quite a crowd and continued to attract more passersby as they walked through the town and enjoyed the holiday atmosphere. Each of the trees had a ticket dispenser planted in the ground. As they walked, each of them picked their favorite. Finally, they came to Marcy’s tree. Christmas supposed it was actually Jason’s tree, seeing as he’d done most of the work, but the result was gorgeous. She peeled off a ticket, noting that many had already been taken.
“You’re not!” Sasha gasped.
“What?” she said, “I mean, look at it. It’s like a rocket flame next to a candle!”
“You’re going to make Marcy’s head bigger than her boobs,” Leah whined.
“Her boobs aren’t that big,” Christmas said. “I’m pretty sure her ego is already bigger.”
“But, like, her stupid face is going to hang in the Hall of Records for a million years. Do you really want that to be your contribution to history?” Leah asked.
“If it’s an honest one, then she deserves it,” Christmas said, shrugging.
They continued walking, dropping their tickets in the box for tallying. Finally, they parted ways for the night and Christmas rode home with Brad. Dealing with the animals most of the day had taken her energy, and she dozed on Brad’s shoulder, in the bench seat of his truck. At home, he carried her up the walk as she giggled tiredly, and even up the stairs, where he put her into bed. She was asleep before he even turned out the lights.
More chapters of heartfelt friendship, erotic passion, and tearjerking tales await in the full story of Twelve Days in Christmas. Pick this story up in the shop to read all 142 pages of the beautiful story of sibling romance and the depth of true friendship.