Christmas Lightbulb Moment
written by: Jackie Harvey
“Christmas is boring, BORING!”
“Oh Joe, Christmas isn’t boring, how can you say that? ’Course it’s not boring.”
“Yes, it is. I have to see people I don’t know and don’t like. They’re boring as well.”
“Now Joe, it’s once a year. ‘These people are your relatives – of course, you know them.”
Joe’s mum was used to his sullen ways: always moaning about something. On a school day, he wanted to be home because school was boring but at home, he wanted to be at school because home was boring. There was certainly no pleasing Joe. His mum, despite trying hard not to, couldn’t help seeing her son, with Christmas approaching, as a miniature version of Ebenezer Scrooge.
When asked what he wanted for Christmas; if it was perhaps new games, new clothes or new phone the answer was the same – boring.
Was there anything that wasn’t boring his mother wondered? Probably if Santa’s sled pulled by alien reindeer with solid gold antlers landed outside she imagined Joe looking out, shrugging and saying he’d seen better on the internet. She had read that boredom was good for children – it made them use their imagination and allowed time for ideas to seed and grow. When would the ideas that surely had plenty of time to seed, start to grow? Would they ever?
Joe wasn’t daft, he wasn’t really lazy. There must be something that would banish the dreadful spectre of boredom. That ‘something’ was Joe’s mum’s dearest wish for Christmas. Smiling, rather than scowling at the dinner table; laughing rather than grumbling at old jokes – these simple things would make Christmas for her. Things she thought she wouldn’t see – not this year.
“I’m going out. Nothing to do here.” Joe whinged, stepping over games, DVD’s, and books that had collectively not managed to interest him.
“Where are you going Joe? Lunch soon – you like fish finger sandwiches.”
“Used to. Fed up with them…”
“Don’t tell me, they’re boring.”
Mum pictured a silver table groaning with exotic fruits and elaborate show-stopping cakes to put Bake Off winners to shame. Joe would probably walk up and down giving the incredible delights a cursory glance then say there wasn’t anything he fancied.
Three days until Christmas. Three days for a miracle to happen. If only…
Just along the road Joe encountered a scruffy dog. He wasn’t a great animal lover. Would never hurt one but could take or leave them. This one he would certainly leave. It had a look about it – stroppy – not in a vicious way Joe thought but it was definitely narked; the dog equivalent of glaring. Something about it hooked Joe. He stood and looked at it and the dog looked at him – seeming to almost ask ‘what d’ya think you’re gawping at?’
As boy and dog studied each other a woman appeared from round a nearby corner.
“Scratch, thank goodness, there you are! How did you get out again?”
Scratch stared at his owner and if dogs could shrug as if to say ‘whatever’ then that’s what he did.
“He’s a pest my flippin’ dog.” The clearly relieved woman complained to Joe as she clipped Scratch’s lead on.
“He lives the life of Riley he does but is he ever happy? No. Always looks as miserable as sin.”
As the woman was speaking Joe continued to study Scratch, who yawned. He made Joe yawn too.
“Look at him, yawning like he’s bored. I understand how dogs can be bored if they don’t get enough attention, don’t get enough stimulation, or don’t have anything to do but we love him so much and do everything to give him a good life. God knows what else we can do. All the affection we pour into him and he just looks bored all the time. Sorry to go on boy, but all we want for Christmas is a sign that he loves us: just giving his paw, wagging his tail. Not much to ask is it?”
Joe shook his head, leant down and peered into Scratch’s bored eyes. Although Scratch was a dog it was like looking into a mirror. He thought of all the poor dogs with no loving homes; those that had to be rescued; those that suffered or might be dumped after Christmas when it was discovered that lively puppies aren’t cuddly toys. He thought of them and then Scratch – an animal with a loving home and everything a dog could want yet he seemed bored.
As he looked in Scratch’s eyes Joe began to wonder. Could dogs be like people – bad-tempered and sulky for no reason? Joe thought about himself. He could be bad-tempered and sulky. He was just like Scratch – had everything he needed but made life difficult for those who cared for him most.
Joe reached out to Scratch “You naughty dog, go home with your lady. Lots of poor dogs would love to have a Christmas like yours. You’re a lucky dog.”
“There Scratch see? He knows how lucky you are.”
Scratch got up, looked at his owner, wagged his tail and barked. It was like he was saying ‘Ok then, let’s go home.’
As the lady rubbed Scratch’s ears and they walked away together she turned to Joe.
“Don’t know what happened there boy but seems he took to you, funny that, he doesn’t usually. Merry Christmas to you, I’m sure you’ll have a good one.”
“Yeah, reckon I will.” Joe smiled and turned for home “I reckon I will this year.”
Back home Joe’s mum was in for a shock; a pleasant shock.
“Mum, I’m home. I would like fish fingers please and I’ve been thinking about Christmas. Wondering what I could get for you and dad as you do so much for me, oh, and I’ll help you with the tree later if you like”.
Mum wondered if the same boy that went out had come back but she wasn’t complaining.
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