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Evelyn R. Smith: A very special Christmas gift (Excerpts from my diary, December 1986)

(Dec. 18, 1986)

It's a week before Christmas and our dog, Corby, has died. Saying goodbye to him brings overwhelming grief, partly because his passing means the end of 30 plus years of keeping, showing and breeding dogs. Corby is the last pet who will ever share our home, and our lifestyle is about to change drastically. Since 1955, Ted and I, along with our dogs, have opened gifts together on Christmas day. This Christmas, there will be no gift under the tree for Corby to open. We need some time away, so tomorrow we leave for Pipestem Resort.

(Dec. 23, 1986, at Pipestem Resort)

Corby has been with us a few times at this resort, so we remember his presence everywhere. Yesterday, when we saw the sign, "Please keep pets on leash," in the picnic area, we laughed because it brought back memories of one time when Corby raised his leg and saluted it.

(10 a.m. Dec. 24, 1986)

We just finished breakfast in the lovely dining room and are packed to leave. We dread the thought of going home to an empty house, so we've decided to meander down Route 20, past Bluestone Lake, and take a look at downtown Hinton.

(11 am. Dec. 24, 1986)

We're stopped at a service station in Hinton to fill the gas tank. It is an unusually warm evening for December, so here I sit in the car with windows rolled down, waiting for Ted to pay the bill. I rest my elbow on the car door with my chin propped up on my hand. . . .  Excuse me, I have to take a break . . . .

(11:30 am. Dec. 24, 1986)

What just happened has taken my breath away! My fingers shake until I can hardly wipe the tears away. A young woman drove up to the pump in front of our car. Suddenly, without warning, she appeared at my window. Thrusting a wiggly, black Pekingese through the window and into my arms, she asked, "Would you mind holding my dog while I run in to pay my bill?" Without waiting for an answer, she took off toward the office.

When Ted returned to the car, he found me with a dog on my lap, its tail wagging a zillion times a minute as it licked the salty tears running down my cheeks. "Where in the world did that dog come from?" he asked with both surprise and delight. I tried to explain through my tears -- but how can you explain a miracle?  So, for the next several minutes, we both enjoyed hugging a dog once more -- feeling its wet tongue against our cheeks, and marveling at its obvious delight in being with two teary-eyed people -- neither of whom it had ever seen before in its entire life.

Several minutes later, the woman returned to get her Peke. We thanked her profusely, telling her she would never know what holding her little dog had done for us. "Well," she said, "When I saw you parked here, something told me that you needed to hug a dog." Then she and her Peke were gone.

(noon, Dec. 24, 1986)

Still wiping away the tears, we're headed back home now. I thought of the question recorded in the Psalms, "Who is so great a God as our God?" The Psalmist answered: "It is He alone who does great wonders."

There has to be an unseen hand in charge of our lives. Only a loving God could care enough to put that little dog into our arms this evening in Hinton. Our hearts are broken. So, He gave us a very special Christmas gift, one that we will never forget.

Of course, the best gift of all is the One He gave us at Bethlehem on that first Christmas day. It is for everyone, and it comes with no strings attached. Luke 2:10-11, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For there is born to you this day a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."

Evelyn resides at Edgewood Summit with her husband Ted.


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