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Reflections December 2014

The Ugliest Christmas Guest Ever

By Teresa Ambord

I’d been so happy with this tree, but suddenly I was regretting how dense and prickly it was. I wanted Sluggo gone, but I sure didn’t want to find him impaled on my Christmas tree like some kind of weird ornament

Except for the lights on the Christmas tree the house was dark. I sat on the floor with my back against the couch, admiring the red, green, and white twinkle lights. They were one of my favorite things about Christmas. Beside me on the floor were two boxes of decorations, most of which would not make it onto the tree at all. I was determined to keep it simple for once, especially because this would be my first Christmas as an empty-nester. My only child had moved too far away to come home for the holidays.

Christmas might be a little lonely this year, I thought as I sipped some decaf. I knew that on Christmas afternoon I’d go to my sister’s house, but till then, it would be just me and my dog and cat. It would be nice to have a little bit of company. I didn’t know then that I would come to regret that thought.

A noise at the back door caused me to look up and see Gracie hop through the kitty door.

“Come here baby,” I said. My cat stopped and took a long look at the Christmas tree as if to ask how an outside tree got inside the house. Then she sauntered over to allow me to pet her.

“Have you been rolling on the wet ground? You’re damp,” I said. “Oops, Gracie, you’ve got a leaf or something stuck in your hair. Let me pull it off.”

Removing the thing proved harder than I expected, since it had worked its way into Gracie’s long hair. With it on my finger, I walked to the darkened kitchen to toss it in the trash. As I walked, I noticed it felt odd. Hmmm, this is no leaf, I thought. I flipped on a light and brought my hand up to my eyes for a better look. Then I realized, I was eyeball-to-eyeball with a fat… brown… slug. My beautiful Gracie had brought a slug into my home, instantly destroying my peace of mind.

I shrieked, probably scaring the slug more than he scared me. In my panic, my hand shot out as a way to get him off of me. No sooner did Sluggo detach and fly off of me than I realized, that was a big mistake.

What have I done? I thought, smacking my forehead. Now there was a slug somewhere – in my house –  and I had no idea where. I had visions of myself walking across the carpet and squashing him onto my new Christmas socks. Or maybe Gracie or my dog would find him and think he was an interesting toy or worse, a treat. Moments earlier I had wished for some Christmas company, but this was not what I had in mind.

I had to find him, so I estimated the trajectory of my hand when I propelled Sluggo into oblivion. Then I followed the path which I thought he must have traveled, eager to expel the unwanted, ugly visitor. No luck. I got down on all fours, scouring the carpet. For the first time, I regretted my choice of new carpet in multiple shades of brown, including the ever popular “Slug Beige” tone. I wasn’t sure which would be worse, finding him, or not finding him. Would I stand up and discover he was pasted to my knee? The idea of having to peel a slug pancake off my pant leg made me shiver. Face it, I told myself. There is no good ending to this situation.

When Sluggo did not turn up anywhere else, I realized he had to be in one of two places. Either he had flown into one of the boxes, still filled with decorations, or he was buried in the boughs of my Christmas tree. Methodically I emptied the boxes, examining every ornament. No sign of Sluggo.

With no other choice, I got out my big flashlight, and began to go over the tree, inch by inch. I’d been so happy with this tree, but suddenly I was regretting how dense and prickly it was. I wanted Sluggo gone, but I sure didn’t want to find him impaled on my Christmas tree like some kind of weird ornament.

At the end of the evening, an exhaustive search failed to turn up my unwanted guest. I knew there was little chance of Sluggo finding his own way out of the house. But I was at a loss. I had no choice but to give up and face the fact that I would be sharing my house and my Christmas with a fat slimy brown slug that had accidentally hitched a ride on my unsuspecting Gracie. Or did he do it on purpose? Maybe he was lonely too or wanted to spend the holiday in a warm house.

Ah well, I decided. Somehow, life will go on.

As I expected, Christmas was lonely that year. But thanks to Sluggo, it was certainly more interesting. He never made another appearance, and for all I know, he could still be here somewhere. He was without doubt, the ugliest Christmas guest anyone ever had. On the other hand, he was quiet and undemanding. In previous years I’d had human guests who were noisy, clumsy and less than grateful for my hospitality. Come to think of it, some of them even resembled Sluggo with his gelatinous, blob-like appearance. When I looked at it that way, as Christmas guests go, it could have been worse. Yes, it could have been much worse.

 

Teresa Ambord is a former accountant and Enrolled Agent with the IRS. Now she writes full time from her home, mostly for business, and about family when the inspiration strikes.

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