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How to Say Goodbye to a Very Bad Year

After an upsetting canine altercation on Christmas Eve, realizing that God’s got this.

Saying goodbye to 2020
Credit: Katye Martens Brier
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It happened on Christmas Eve. Of course it did. 2020 has been that kind of year. 

I was doing some last-minute shopping—of course I was—and stopped into a little pet store in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, we like to patronize instead of the big chain store. I wanted Gracie to pick out a Christmas present for herself that Julee and I would wrap, hide then bring out with great ceremony on Christmas morning so Gracie could have a joyous frenzy of paper shredding. More fun than the toy itself, probably. 

A pensive GracieIt’s a small store that was made smaller by several other shoppers. The manager has a dog named Soma who’s sometimes allowed to roam about. She’s about half Gracie’s size and was out. We edged inside. Soma came up to Gracie immediately and maybe a bit too quickly. Now, there’s a little history between Soma and Gracie. When Gracie was a puppy, Soma intimidated her a bit. Nothing serious. Just a dog thing. We’d been in there many times in subsequent years. Usually there’s not a problem. 

Not today. In the blink of an eye, they were fighting with all the attendant growling and snapping and flying drool. Things went crashing off shelves as they wrestled and snarled. Customers scattered, including a couple of children whom I pray are not traumatized and in need of therapy. The manager and I finally got them separated, Soma yelping away with a bloody paw. Gracie had a small cut on her forehead.  

Gracie added insult to injury by trying to shoplift her present as I dragged her outside. I had to throw it back in through the door and then get Gracie safely in the Jeep. “What got into you?” I asked. Holiday stress? Gracie is the last dog on earth you’d expect to fight. She’s all about peace and love. In fact, when she came to us her name was actually Peace Pup. 

The only time her temper flares is when a boy dog attempts to take liberties with her at the dog run. Even then it’s only a brief display. She makes up immediately. Just an hour earlier she’d been playing with every dog we met on our daily hike. She never has altercations. Not happy, laid-back Gracie! This was terrible. My heart was still pounding.

I said a prayer that Soma was okay (I called later—she was totally fine) and another prayer that this awful year be over with. Not that a couple dogs brawling was anything like the tragedy of sickness and loss we have endured, the loneliness and economic dislocation, and every other thing that has happened. Somehow this outburst seemed like the last straw. My placid pup transmogrifying into a bloodthirsty cur.

I started the Jeep and swiped away a tear, angry at myself for not being more vigilant. Took a deep breath. I know, I know, Lord, all things good will come from You. This too will pass. With You there is hope for the future. For the year ahead. For goodness and grace. For everything under the sun.

Finally, a sense of calm came over me, of reassurance and peace. Yes, 2021 will be a far better year. Of course it will.

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