Even though the dog was three times the size of the children he galumphed alongside. We never named him Biggie or Gigantor or Ruff; he was just good doggie, the cast-iron dog. Turned upside-down, we could see his seam, and in his sculpted black fur there was a telltale screw at his shoulder. That was part of being a good dog.
Even as it was plain to see that the church, with its sugar-frosting of roof sparkles, was too small to fit the villagers, there was a light-bulb inside it that illumined the stained glass windows. The windows had a simple pattern that radiated--kind of fern-fronded--off a central cross. There was a wire-wreath on the door, a bit browned, but with jolly little glass balls of red. That was up on the sledding hill.
Even while our mom and aunts and great aunts shouted over canasta tiles and laughed loud and warmly as they hunted maraschino cherries in their holiday whisky sours, and our dad and uncles and grand uncles clustered in the kitchen playing poker and drinking happy Pabst from glasses with droll cartoons on them, my sister and I stayed hunkered down in the little village. The boy on the sled would fly up to visit angels and sometimes rest at the foot of the manger. I was the skater girl with the fur muff, and my sister was the angel that flew Jesus around on its back. It was so fun.
Even knowing that tree was fake, the doggie too big, the grownups too loud, there was no place better. My sister and I took turns kidnapping baby Jesus and having the good doggie find him with his good iron heart screwed down inside. Our dad would always rig it so we won a hand at poker. Our mom let us drink our fill of coca colas. We loved that cramped apartment, with its ceramic table-top tree alight, our chain-smoking elders operating in a world above the oaken canopy, where everything was screwed tight.
About the Author: Anne Elizabeth Weisgerber has recent or forthcoming stories in New South, Tahoma Literary Review, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Vignette Review, and Revolution John. She is assistant fiction editor at Pithead Chapel, and writes reviews for Change Seven Magazine. She thanks Kathy Fish and the #fishtankwriters for their love and support. Anne is in the running for Best Small Fictions 2016, and writing a novel about artists, money, and drinks. Follow her on Twitter, or visit anneweisgerber.com.