Misery Loves Company

“Cyril, a good judge of human mood, nudged gently at his side.  Canine body language for “I understand”.  Dogs understood misery.”

This is a quote from The Peppermint Tea Chronicles by Alexander McCall Smith.  It’s a fabulous little book that I’m about half way through.  But quote above is in the first chapter.  Bertie, who is seven, is disconsolate over having to attend a mostly-girls birthday part.  Cyril is the next-door neighbor’s dog.  When I read this, I was immediately reminded of a time when I was about seven and was completely heartbroken over something.  I don’t remember what the issue was but I do have a snapshot in my memory of sitting on the wide stairs of my home and crying as if there were no tomorrow. 

While I cried, our family dog, Princess (aka Princess the Wonder Dog) crept over quietly and sat down beside me.  She laid her head in my lap and I clutched her to me as I bawled.  I remember this as if it happened yesterday – the feel of her clearly sympathizing with my misery.  It’s true – dogs understand misery. 

I can’t wait to finish this book; I’m assuming there may be some other nuggets that will speak to me.

Do you remember when you found out the truth about Santa Claus?

49 thoughts on “Misery Loves Company”

  1. I was nine, unsurprised and yes, dogs absolutely understand emotions. Our girl Ellie Mae is fourteen, diabetic and incontinent. I scolded her harshly yesterday for peeing in the house, twice. My fault – I should have diapered her, but Ellie (usually a stoic, unemotional creature) didn’t know that. She was sorry, and showed it by lingering around my legs seeking forgiveness. Then we both felt bad.

    Liked by 7 people

    1. I had a moment like that, John, when I was in my teen years. For one reason or another, I was feeling wretched about myself. I got down on the floor and wrapped my arms around Danny, our calm, dignified golden retriever. Then it came to me: it is good to have a dog because at times you cannot like yourself you can be kind to the dog. And that is good for everyone.

      Liked by 5 people

        1. YA and I worked really hard to pick out the name for our last Samoyed. He came with a name Angel and I just couldn’t deal with that. So a lot of searching and we came up with Thorin, thanks to J.R.R. Tolkien. But it seems surprisingly difficult to me to come up with a name for a big massive fluffy dog.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. When I was about 4, my parents took me to the big department store in Sioux Falls to see Santa. The Santa at the store was a good friend of my parents named Frank Mihan. I sat on his lap and told him what I would like for Christmas. My parents thought I had been completely fooled, until I looked at them and said “Are we going to go see Mrs Mihan now?” I don’t remember ever really believing in Santa.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Frank was the guy who put a classified ad in the Sioux Falls newspaper, The Argus Leader, that said “Elephant for sale. Disbanding small circus. Serious inquiries only.” The phone number in the ad was that of a particularly annoying neighbor of Frank’s who happened to be a staunch Republican. Frank was Democrat. The neighbor was inundated with phone calls about the elephant until he figured out what had happened.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. It was Halloween. Our daughter was 5 and I was giving her an oatmeal bath as she had the chicken pox, when she asked me, in all her itchy misery, if Santa was real. I said no. Then she asked about the Easter Bunny and I admitted her brother hid all the eggs.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. In Ames, my home town, the tallest structure downtown was the three-story Tilden building. That was home to Collegiate Manufacturing, where my dad worked as an artist. On a sunny afternoon shortly after Christmas, my dad asked me to accompany him as he collected some papers from the office.

    The third floor window gave me a thrilling view of an older but nice section of Ames, the homes built next to Main Street when Ames was just developing as a town. A snowstorm two days before Christmas had blanketed the town, so every home wore a puffy covering of virgin snow, everything white and smooth.

    And then it hit me. There were no reindeer tracks on any of the roofs. There were no creases where Santa’s sleigh had run. Even at that age I was experienced at woodcraft and the ways of nature, so the truth was impossible to miss. There was a real Santa, and he was the man I called Daddy.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Growing up, I had no older siblings to spoil the mystery of Santa nor younger ones for whom I had to maintain the charade. I don’t remember when I slipped from belief.

    My older daughter at some point asked us if Santa was real. Not wanting to lie and not wanting to prematurely clue in her younger sister, we went into a long explanation about how Santa was not exactly a person but was the spirit of Christmas, etc., etc.

    Her next question was, “Should we leave carrots for the reindeer?”

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Ha ha. When YA was very young (in the three and four year range) we used to put out carrots and Cheerios and sparkles for the reindeer and I will admit that two years in a row I went out during the night and clambered around with a big can of soup so that would look more like reindeer prints than my foot prints. But that makes it seem like I was really invested in making sure she believed in Santa, which I was not; it was kind of fun. I don’t actually remember when she figured it out but of course for all of these years our motto has been “if you believe in Santa, he believes in you.”

      And I don’t remember when I figured it out either. I’m pretty sure that the incident with Princess was not over Santa.

      Liked by 3 people

  6. I’ve described before my daughter’s Santa moment. I think most kids are in about second grade when doubts first arrived. We tried hard to keep her believing. Then she had a debate about Santa with some schoolmates. My daughter told them, “I can work this out. My dad always tells me the truth. I’ll ask him.”

    It wasn’t a difficult moment. And from that moment on, my daughter would do anything she could to preserve the faith in other kids. I recall her scolding us for being careless about which paper we used to wrap gifts. She saw that a perceptive kid could tumble to the truth by tracking gift wrap paper.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    A little friend named Roberta told me when I was four years old that Santa was your parents. Of course I went home crying, and clarified this with my mother, who responded with anger towards the friend, and called her mother complaining that Roberta busted Santa. Apparently Mom wanted me to believe a bit longer. What I do not understand about her response was that in so many situations which actually were dangerous to me (packing my suitcase and running away, hanging out with cousins whose behavior was out-of-control), she appeared not to care what happened to me, while with Santa she did.

    Presents at Christmas were not generous, therefore, my sister and I swore to our younger brother that Santa was real, long after he should have figured this out. We engaged in elaborate stories documenting Santa’s existence. Having our brother believe in Santa was a way for us to get an extra present, too, because Santa had to give equal treatment.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. PS, Alexander McCall Smith is a hoot. Some of his work I like, some I do not. Lou and I saw him at the Fitzgerald Theater pre-COVID. Kerry Miller interviewed him. At some point when he was spinning out on his flights of fancy, including a poem he wrote about flying on airlines on his way to MSP, she lost control of the interview and just started giggling with the rest of us.

      VS, there is an entire series, 44 Scotland Street, about Bertie and his horrible mother Irene, which he started as a serial in the Edinborough newspaper, then the readers would not let go of the series, so he kept writing and it became a series.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. My older Cousin David spoiled a lot of things for me. In retrospect, he was kinda mean. But he’s the only one I had to play with most of the time.
    I’m pretty sure David spoiled Santa. He’s also the one that explained sex to me. And my story of a few weeks ago with the drunk kid also involved David… I guess I learned a lot of what not to do from David.

    I’m not sure daughter still believes in Santa, but she’s not fully ready not too either.

    I’ve probably told the story many of many years ago, Christmas Concerts here at the college. Santa would get his costume and mic on in an office next to the light booth. Daughter was in the booth with me watching the show. Santa wandered in, waiting for his entrance… Daughter noticed him out of the corner of her eye, slowly slid off the chair, down on to the floor, and quietly started to cry. Santa is a big scary guy in a red suit you know. He felt terrible.
    Same guy still plays Santa and we all go down and have our picture taken with him at the concerts. She loves him now.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. YA was also not impressed by any of the Santas we visited when she was young. I have a great picture of her stretching out her arm and body as far as she could without toppling over to get a candy cane from Santa without having to actually get too close to him..

      Liked by 2 people

  9. My youngest granddaughter, who is trying hard to keep believing, told me the other day that Santa must be real because, if you send him a letter, it never comes back.

    She asked me if I thought Santa was real. I told her I try to stay away from metaphysical speculation.

    Liked by 6 people

  10. Christmas was sparse at our house when I was small. No bounty of gifts nor were any expected. I don’t think he was ever in my childhood presented as real. No media in front of us to push the issue.
    My son when he was just past 4 in the middle of the summer asked his mother why anyone thought Santa is real. We were not sure what brought that up then. We had never pushed the belief nor denied it until then. He never told schoolmates except two very intelligent classmates had shared the truth which each had figured out. My daughter is 2 and a half years younger asked her brother if he was real. He said no. She remembers that and did not tell her friends. She was in first grade. My grand daughter admits she pretended to believe for fear she would get fewer gifts. Mr. Tuxedo when he was near five announced that he had figured out the truth in his college days. At that age he had a very vibrant imaginative past, often focused on his college days. He says he got it from a teacher.

    Liked by 6 people

  11. On Monday the county sprung on me the truth that her medical insurance is now a whole new ball game and that some how I was supposed to have known that and should have made a decision among 5 choices. For two days I have been deep in trying to investigate it all, without any real info at hand. If I got it done today they could maybe make the switch for Dec. 1. Saving us $370 dollars. Just now learned that we will have a new case worker because this one, who we really like, does not work with our choice.
    I am exhausted. What secret truth will they surprise me with next?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awful stuff! From experience with my Dad, being destitute is the best. We paid for some extra care on his behalf but “they” took every dime of his military benefits/pension and Social Security.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. They take all of her income in one way or another. The $370 saved would then go to help pay her expenses. But my income is untouched and leaves me in good shape. I can keep my 2 bedroom apartment, which is sort of a waste. If I moved to a one bedroom when one becomes open, I would only save less than $200 and would lose my wonderful backyard and woods, which these days has a daily turkey trot through it, nine big beautiful birds. Plus the apartment is only about 50 feet from my car. My car is lien-free and only has 95,000 miles on it. I am lucky, except for moments like when Sandy asks me if we are divorced.

        Liked by 2 people

  12. Sandy was born in march of 1940. Her first five years were heavy with the war. Gifts were few. But there were department store Santa’s. She had a dear favorite Uncle Donny who died in December of 1944, as it happens a week before I was born. She thinks, and her mother agreed, that she clung onto the Santa belief not for gifts but that some how his death wasn’t as bad if there was a Santa Claus.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. I got boosted and pneumonia vaccined, sorry about the verbing, two weeks ago. Nurse reminded me that moving my arms would help. So I was doing the chicken dance off and on for several hours.

        Liked by 5 people

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