My Christmas tree is pink and my theology unorthodox, which is why after the last glass pugs, paw prints and Best-in-Show ornaments are hung on the tree and my Santa Pug tree topper placed on the table (it is too heavy for the artificial limbs), I sit on the floor with my pugs and unwrap my Nativity scene.
The pugs sniff at the box and the crumpled newspaper that hold the figurines. First, I unwrap the stable, purchased at Wal-Mart years ago – the smallest and quaintest I could find. Its roof is mossy. A rustic, wire star hangs from a nail at its peak. I peel back the papers and take out the three black, porcelain pug figurines – Mary Pug, Joseph Pug and a third, perhaps one of the Three Wise Pugs? Finally, I take out the black pug puppy in the manger, gold halo on his head and blue bird at his feet. I special ordered these online shortly after I got my first black pug, Vader, 14 years ago and each year I set it up on the table beside the tree. I let my pugs nose the figurines and in the candy-colored glow of the multi-colored lights, I sit and share the Christmas story.
I tell my pugs how once someone very big became someone very small and vulnerable, appearing in a form that we could understand to bridge the gap between us. My pugs sit in my lap enjoying the warmth and the sound of my voice. They are tired from the excitement of the tree and the hanging of the ornaments. They are willing to listen as I explain that at that moment, in a stable meant for animals, heaven met earth, so one day all creation could be restored. Waffles licks my hand and Alfie sniffs my eyes, twice in each eyeball before letting out a snort and spritzing my face. I call these her love snorts; it’s more likely her way of checking on me. I pet both their heads, fingering the figurines and placing them one at a time in the stable. The Baby Pug Jesus goes in last. When I am done I say a prayer for long lives for both my dogs. They stretch and get up to play. I do not worry about people who may question my theology or my sanity; I figure this oft-told Christmas tale, the ultimate love story, is big enough to encompass us all.