You make your way towards The Pond, noticing the cold air nipping at your neck where your hairline meets the wool collar of your peacoat. As you brush aside the drooping branches of the willow tree marking the entrance, the absence of Xiaolong’s warm welcome is alarming. “I wonder where everyone is,” you think, “I can’t have Pondmas without my friends! They’re like my family!”
You pass Varian, who is sewing a voluminous bow made of burgundy velour and making a festive wreath. In front of them on a tree stump sit meters of lush fabric, various forms of greenery, twine, and twigs. They gesture in the direction of small commotion that you can hear as you round the corner.
“N-no! I’m too nervous!”
“Come on Cuddle, we need a soloist!”
“Well, if you need a soloist so badly, why don’t you do it?!”
You rush over to smooth things over. Xiaolong, Cuddle and Party, Sprout, and Amina are engaged in a tense conversation, while they huddle around a music stand made of branches and twigs. They are all dressed in various combinations of beanies, scarves, and mittens in the soft mints, teals, and lavender shades of the Pond, and hold individual lyrics books. Xiaolong points to the music score, worried.
“We can’t find a lead for Jingle Bell Rock! Our other carols are all beautiful choral harmonies, but we really need someone to carry this song. Cuddle is too nervous, I don’t have the right register, Sprout is already soloing in Silent Night, and Amina is playing the lute!” Xiaolong tells you. The two of you put your heads together, trying a different arrangement of the song to see if it may work.
“Gen!” calls Sprout, “Can you try this part in this carol?” Gen thumps over, smiles, nods, and takes his place in front of his four (really, five) friends. You hear a few bars of Amina’s lute introduction, and then the signature ascending three notes of Jingle Bell Rock. Gen’s voice booms across the Pond, a gravelly and resounding bass. Everyone erupts into peals of laughter.
“Beautiful, Gen, but not quite what we’re looking for, for this song,” giggles Xiaolong. Gen continues laughing, and exits stage right to continue gathering greenery for Varian’s wreath from his garden.
Suddenly, Cuddle notices a slight rustle of a red tulle bow on a large but squat golden box beneath the Christmas tree. “Shhh,” she motions towards Amina, who is practicing the accompaniment on her lute.
Amina rolls her eyes and grumbles, “No one ever appreciates hedgehogs around here.”
The group of carolers trains their eyes on the box, whose rustling becomes more and more insistent. The lid begins to shake, popping up and down like a jack in the box ready to erupt. Cuddle clutches tighter to Party. Sprout’s eyes widen. With one tremendous shake, the box tips forward, and Bao, the Pond’s resident adopted corgi, leaps forward, dashing into Xiaolong’s arms. He is wearing a pair of reindeer’s ears and looking irresistibly adorable.
“Bao!” everyone shouts, as they willingly receive licks and kisses on their faces. Bao eagerly runs over to the stage, while Amina hastily picks up her lute and plucks out the opening to Jingle Bell Rock once more. Bao awoo-s the solo part effortlessly, a beautiful doggy alto, the voice that they were all looking for.
“Where did you come from?!” cries Xiaolong.
“Hmph,” Aunty Buyaya chuffs, exhaling, “Maybe if you weren’t so busy squabbling, you would have noticed me putting Bao under the tree. Today is his adoption anniversary, and he wanted to do something special.”
“We’re sorry, Aunty Buaya,” Amina says, “We were too busy arguing over something inconsequential to remember what was important. This is the perfect role for Bao and the perfect way to celebrate his homecoming. We love you, Bao.”
And with that, you notice that the air becomes a little lighter and the fireflies glow a little brighter, as the group of carolers embrace the plump corgi. They get into their places as you grab a decorated sprinkled sugar cookie from the snack table. The perfect harmonies, accompanied by the lute, lay beneath Bao’s woof-woof-woof, woof-woof-woof, awoo, awoo, to signal the beginning of the song they had been working on for so long. It is Pondmas, and Bao’s adoption anniversary – a day that they would always remember to remember.
A merry Pond-mas to you all, friends!
We’re so happy that you could celebrate Pond-mas with us and the Pond friends. Our Story-Time for Pond-mas this year was written by the heart and soul behind Cuddle, Joce, and I genuinely love the story she wrote.
I know it’s been a tough year for everyone, so, from all three of us at the Pond, we hope that you have a peaceful and gentle Pond-mas, that you spend the day doing what you love or spending it with people who make you happier, and that your heart feels fuller and lighter.
We have all of our ‘Top Reads of 2020’ posts coming up, so look forward to that! Otherwise, please have a safe and wonderful holiday season. 💜