Mountain Views News, Combined Edition Saturday, November 26, 2022

MVNews this week:  Page 11

Mountain Views-News Saturday, November 26, 2022 



[Nyerges is an educator, and the author of several books, such as “Urban Survival Guide,” “Extreme 
Simplicity,” and others. This story is extracted from Nyerges' latest book, "Watermelon 
Dreams." He can be reached at] 

Christmas was always a special time. In my very earliest memories, the religious 

overtones were subtle, or not obvious, to me. I was taken to church every Sunday, 

of course, but the Christmas decorations and gatherings were all something that 

hap-pened at home, not at church. When I was too young to speak, I realized that 
Christ-mas was the season that happened during the coldest time of the year, and it meant that we’d 
have a fire going in the fireplace, people would be coming over, and there’d be lots of gifts and food. 
The food was cookies, tangerines, and walnuts. 

 One of my earliest Christmas memories was when I was told that Santa Claus would come to 
our home and bring gifts, and that he had some way to figure out where I lived. I didn’t know exactly 
why, but there was a great mystery about this fat, bearded, red-suited Santa man. People spoke 
about him in hushed tones, and would even sometimes stop talking about him when I came near. 

 My brother Tom told me that Santa Claus would come down the chimney – something I 
found hard to believe considering how fat the man appeared in the pic-tures. We both peered up 
into our fireplace one day and wondered how Santa could get through the narrow passageway. And 
why would he choose such a difficult point of entry?

 “Plus, doesn’t dad have a screen over the top of the chimney to keep the pi-geons out?” Tom 
asked. I didn’t know. “I hope he remembers to remove it for Santa.” 

 On Christmas Eve, our dad showed us a plate of cookies and a thermos of cof-fee that had 
been set out for Santa. 

 We barely slept, and I tried to not sleep so I could be the first to rush out and catch a glimpse of 
this Santa. But I fell asleep, and Tom woke me and Rick. We jumped out of bed, and ran down the 
hall. We weren’t particularly interested in gifts, but we wanted to catch a glimpse of Santa before he 
whisked away back up the chim-ney. We were too late, but the three of us carefully examined the 
remaining evi-dence. There were no cookies left on the plate – only crumbs – and there was only a 
small amount of coffee left in the cup. Tom held the cup and carefully peered into it, and then Rick 
and I stared into the cup, the proof that Santa had come and departed. 

“See?” said Tom. We all continued to stare into the cup a while longer, as if it might reveal 
some secrets to us.

 In a few more years, I noticed that people didn’t fully hide their comments from me when 
speaking about Santa Claus. 

 “He believes in Santa Claus?” was met with muffled response. What an odd question, I 
thought. Why shouldn’t I believe in Santa Claus?

 When I actually learned about this mythical aspect of Christmas, I did go through a period 
of confusion and even anger at the world of make-believe perpetrated entirely by adults and foisted 
upon me. I suppose I felt bad because I really wanted to believe in Santa Claus, and I felt that he 
was a positive figure. And I had been told to “be good” for Santa Claus, and that Santa Claus knew 
everything I was doing. I was very puzzled by all this, but I got over it.

 In fact, I felt very uplifted when I learned that there was an actual historical per-son upon 
which Santa Claus was based: a Catholic bishop in Asia Minor (Turkey) of the 3rd century named 
Nikolaos of Myra gave gifts to poor newlyweds around Christ-mas time. A century or so later, 
sainthood was bestowed upon him, and he was known as Saint Nicholas. 

 In honor of this very real person, people began to give gifts to others, especially others in need, 
during the Christmas season and say it was “from Saint Nicholas.” What a wonderful story! What 
would have been wrong with telling me that historical story rather than the garbled mythology? 


Yes! Echo 
Bella is certainly 
beauty to behold! 
Her fur 
is the color 
of autumn, 
with orange,

black, and gray with white. She's the 
picture of health for her age, 15, has a 
good appetite and needs no meds. She 
had a very loving home, but her owners 
had to move and things just didn't 
work out through no fault of Bella's. She is sweet and friendly and she'd love to 
be in a comfy home where she could live out her golden years in "purr bliss!" 

Purr-ty please don't let this gorgeous girl spend more time in a cage. Submit 
your application to start the process for a meet & greet. We know you'll fall in 
love! Apply at 

Pet of the Week 

Sapphire is celebrating Adopt-A-Senior-PetMonth by reminding us how great “older” petscan be! Six-year-old Sapphire knows some tricks,
appears to be housebroken and is quite content toamuse herself with a chew toy that is not a shoe.
She walks very well on leash; she’s a plug-and-playdog!

 This sweet senior can be a little shy with newpeople, but given a bit of time and space, she willinvestigate and decide that everything is OK.
Once she has assessed the situation, Sapphire willlean into you and put her head in your arms for 
Sapphire also loves toys- tennis balls are high onher list and she loves a good squeaker. Sapphirereally is a gem!
Like all senior pets, Sapphire is eligible for the Seniors for Seniorsprogram, which means her adoption is free for any human over sixty.

The adoption fee for dogs is $150. All dog adoptions include spay or neuter,
microchip, and age-appropriate vaccines.

 New adopters will receive a complimentary health-andwellness 
exam from VCA Animal Hospitals, as well as a goody 
bag filled with information about how to care for your pet.

View photos of adoptable pets and schedule an adoption appointment Adoptions are by appointment only, and new adoptionappointments are available every Sunday and Wednesday at 10:00 a.m.

 Pets may not be available for adoption and cannot be held for potential adoptersby phone calls or email. 


note: This column is an excerpt from Tom 
Purcell’s new book, “Tips from a New Dog 
Dad.” Read more chapters at ThurbersTail. 

My Lab puppy, Thurber, was born on Christmas 
Day, 2020 — the best Christmas blessing 
I ever received. 

But he bestowed even greater blessings on 
my mother and father. 

In his 87th year, my father was facing a series 
of health challenges. 

Waiting for the other shoe to drop — waiting 
for a middle-of-the night call to help pick 
him up from a fall — had become the norm. 

Visits to my parents’ house were becoming 
less joyful and more stressful as my dad, 
with limited mobility, needed help getting in 
and out of his chair and had to ask his kids 
to assist with the many daily tasks he used to 
do himself so effortlessly. 

We gave my father endless support as his 
needs grew but his decline brought sadness, 
and the sadness began permeating my parents’ 
home, hitting us hard every time we 
entered the front door. 

That all changed the day I brought my puppy 
Thurber home. 

Thurber’s first visit 

The day I picked Thurber up in Punxsutawney, 
Pa., my plan was to drive directly to my 
mom and dad’s house. 

I slipped into their house quietly through the 
garage and sneaked up the back steps. 

I knew they’d be in the family room watching 
an old movie. That’s what they often did 
in the afternoons — and, sure enough, that is 
what they were doing. 

In I walked, a soft cuddly puppy in my arms 

— and the room lit up like a Christmas tree. 
The joy was immediate and, just like that, my 
mom and dad were transformed from their 
late 80s into giddy, 10-year-old children. 

I set Thurber on my father’s lap and the puppy 
was in his glory, his tail wagging wildly. 
Dogs always loved my father and sensed instantly, 
and correctly, that he was the alpha 
male in the room. 

The two played and cuddled a good long 
while as Thurber climbed all over my dad 
and found an especially comfortable spot 
between him and the arm of his recliner. 

I brought Thurber over to my mom and she 
too was thrust into instant joy and affec

tion. We never think of our parents as being 
children, but with a puppy in her arms my 
mother became a happy little girl. 

It was as if her father, who died when she was 
only 19, was watching over her again — providing 
her with the warmth and security he 
did so well in her childhood. 

After a time, my mother set Thurber on the 
floor, where I lay enticing him to play with 

I laughed aloud as he jumped on me and 
showered me with his affection, but it was 
more than just puppy affection that brought 
me so much joy. 

It was wonderful to feel the undivided love 
and playfulness my puppy directed solely at 

Better yet, it made my mother and father 
happy to see their middle-aged son being 
made so happy by the puppy who would now 
be an integral part of his world. 

An angel of joy 

I stayed a few hours that Friday afternoon, 
the first time in months we were able to forget 
about my dad’s health woes — the first 
time we laughed in I don’t recall how long. 

The power of a puppy is transformative, and 
my transformation was just beginning then, 
and continues still. 

There is a saying I came across in which God 
is talking to a puppy and he says, “I removed 
your wings so they won’t know you are an 

Well, on the day I brought Thurber home, 
he became an angel of joy to my father and 

I didn’t know that for the next year and a half 
I’d be able to bring him to my parents’ house 
for multiple visits that inevitably resulted 
in childlike happiness for us all — sadness 
left their home instantly every time Thurber 

And when Thurber celebrated his first birthday 
on Christmas Day of 2021, we had the 
celebration in my parents’ home, and it was a 
grand event full of laughter and joy. 

I didn’t know last Christmas that my father 
would leave us nine months later — he’d 
leave us a few days after we’d celebrate his 
89th birthday. 

But I will treasure forever the many joyful 
visits Thurber and I made to my parents’ 
home, in which their difficult days were 
made so much brighter by a furry angel with 
hidden wings! 

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