Monday, June 22, 2009

A Dog Named Christmas by Greg Kincaid

It's a simple, Chicken-soupy book about a stray called Jake, which preferred roaming over sleeping over an open fire, and ostensibly about the young, developmentally challenged man who begged his Viet war veteran dad to allow him to pick a stray from the local pound to stay over Christmas week, as advertised over the radio.

The father wanted to teach his son a lesson, making sure his son, Todd, learn responsibility and return the dog at the end of the week as agreed. Instead Todd picked out Jake (renamed as Christmas) and taught everyone, neighbors and relatives, around him a lesson on giving.

Meanwhile the story becomes less about the son, and more about the father. He revisited his painful memories about the loyal dogs he once had, Tucker who accompanied his fatherless days and died waiting for him to come back from Vietnam, Good Charlie who ran ahead of him and saved his life by dying from a landmine. Like all war veterans, he came back damaged from the war. His physical wounds healed to a stiff leg and throbbing pain, but he could not allow anyone be good to him, despite remaining a good and giving father, husband and member of the community.

As part of the deal, the son agreed to return the dog after Christmas, and it became the father who was reluctant to let Christmas go. When he finally made up his mind to bring back the dog, the dog disappeared again. Full of regrets, he sat in the barn and moped, when a yellow ball rolled to his feet. He looked up and it was Christmas.

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