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Richard Crowson: Have A Very Al Christmas

There’s a little dog that usually appears somewhere in every cartoon I draw. His name is Al and he’s a wire-haired fox terrier that we once shared our home with. Al came from a background of abuse as was evidenced by his shy, cowering personality. There’s nothing normal about a terrier that’s shy but Al had been badly mistreated during his first four or five months and he never really got over it.

So it was with some surprise that we noticed a peculiar thing about Al. Every Christmas morning he would shed his cloak of submissiveness and become a happy, cavorting, normally-behaving fox terrier. He would leap at the discarded piles of Christmas paper. He would race around the room like a crazed reindeer. He would bark at nothing and wag his tail as if it was banging a gong of Christmas merriment.

Maybe he was just sensing the excitement that our daughter was exuding on those Christmas mornings. Or maybe he was nipping at the eggnog before we got up. Or maybe he was feeling the joy that we all really ought to on this day that’s like no other. He certainly paid no attention to the various squeaky toys he always received, so I don’t think it was about getting presents with Al.

I think it was about happiness. Pure and simple. The kind of happiness that’s not containable. The sort of happiness that many people with varying degrees of reverence associate with the Christmas season.
If I may twist a familiar phrase, it was a little bit of the manger in the dog, as it were.

That’s my wish for you this Christmas morning. No matter what you’ve had to overcome, I wish you a few moments of giddiness, a silly outburst or two and the kind of goofy grin that Al always put on our faces on December 25th. Merry Christmas!

Richard Crowson is not only a editorial commentator for KMUW. He's also a cartoonist, an artist and a banjo player.