45: The Envelope

45: The Envelope

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Joy of Christmas

The Envelope

Rich the treasure, sweet the pleasure.

~John Dryden

My brother Brandon and I had opened all of the packages under the tree. All that was left was an envelope. We knew that envelopes usually contained cards, and if we were lucky they also contained gift cards or cash.

My dad looked almost like he’d forgotten about the envelope as he casually handed it to me. I broke its seal and discovered inside a 3x5 index card with a border of glitter surrounding a poem.

Of course, I don’t remember the poem by heart, but its mysterious rhyming message instructed us to go downstairs. We were excited. Maybe we were getting those skis we had wanted.

What we found downstairs was another envelope, containing another index card with a border of glitter surrounding a poem. This poem told us to go to Dad’s car. Were the skis already in the car, ready to go?

Nope. There was just another envelope containing another glittery index card. This one told us to go to Mom’s office downtown. Neither of us was old enough to drive. This meant we had to implore our parents to hurry up and get dressed and finish drinking their coffee and get going. They took forever.

Eventually, we made it to Mom’s office where we found — you guessed it — a glitter-bedecked poem telling us to go somewhere else. This time it was to KATU, the TV station where Dad worked. By now, our curiosity was stretched to the limits of our imaginations. Were we meeting someone famous? Were we going to be on TV? It absolutely didn’t make sense to keep skis at the studio — Dad had a desk in an open area shared with the other reporters.

We soon found out, however, that such a desk is a lovely place to keep a 3x5 index card complete with glitter and a poem. The instruction on this poem perplexed us more than any other. It told us to go to an unfamiliar address. Fortunately for us, our parents knew how to get there.

The car stopped in front of the unknown house. It felt like the end of the hunt. My dad handed us the final envelope. The final poem told us to knock on the door and say, “Merry Christmas! Is Humphrey here?”

This is where faith in our parents came in. We didn’t know who would answer the door, and we didn’t know what a Humphrey was. They shooed us along as they lingered by the car. We peered back to see their smiling faces and built up the courage to knock on the door. As anticipated, a stranger opened. After we recited the greeting, the smiling woman wished us a Merry Christmas and invited us in. We looked to our parents for permission — they were beaming. We were confused. We passed the threshold, and the stranger disappeared down a long hallway. Mom and Dad moved closer to the front door.

While we waited, I examined the room. The yellow, brown and orange couch looked decades old. Across the room, there was a large faded portrait of a well-groomed lap dog. Then I heard a weird sound — like a miniature thunderstorm. And then I saw something coming down the hallway toward us at top speed: a pristine cloud of white fur.

Dad was standing behind us by then. “Merry Christmas,” he said. “He’s yours.” And the woman, who turned out to be a breeder, handed us the puff of fur.

That was the day that Humphrey, a ten-week-old Maltese, became part of our family. It was a gift far surpassing anything I could have imagined — including a set of skis.

~Chelsea Hall

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