The spiraling lights were clinging to the tree branches, flashing along to a silent rhythm. Daryl, celebrating his sixth Christmas, was crouched on the floor, chomping away on every piece of candy pulled from his stocking.
“Did you get everything you wanted?” his mom asked as she tossed crumpled wrapping paperinto stray garbage bags.
“No,” Daryl answered, even though he received a new bike, a game system, and a laptop.“I asked for a reindeer. Where’s my reindeer?”
“You don’t need another pet. You have Charlie.”
Charlie, a lanky brown hound, barked upon hearing his name. He nuzzled his snout against Daryl’s hand, but the boy pushed him away, saying, “It’s Christmas and I only wanta reindeer!”
Charlie padded away, his tail curling in between his legs. If his owners wanted nothing to do with him, then he would enjoy the holidays on his own.
Strolling into the empty kitchen, Charlie noticed a dish of cranberry sauce sitting onthe edge of the counter. Lifting his front paws, he latched onto the edge of the table and plopped his snout into the food, enjoying the special treat.
When he walked back into the living room, he noticed Daryl beneath the tree, searching for a certain toy. Hoping to help, Charlie scampered over, but the space was too small for the two of them. Once the tree swayed and toppled over, Charlie’s head was stuck between the branches. He quickly pulled himself free, but two sticks stuck to his head, poking up above his ears like antlers.
“Charlie. You wrecked the tree,” Daryl’s mom said, ready to drag him outside as a punishment, but her son stopped her.
“Mama, look! He turned into a reindeer for me!”
The entire family turned to look at Charlie with his temporary antlers and cranberry sauce nose. He was wagging his tail, excited that all of the humans were smiling at him.
“This is the best present ever,” Daryl said as he walked up the stairs with his deer-dog. “Now let’s see if he can fly!”