Shadows deepen earlier each day in late December. Streetlights around Shady Pines come on just after 5 pm as the night approaches. Why, before you know it, it’ll be New Year’s Day!
Edna Sanders hums a little tune as she prepares dinner in her kitchen. She has the radio on and music fills the home on Dogwood Drive across from Copy Cat Lane. Halley’s Comet is up on her window seat licking her paws. The silver streak of a cat has just had her dinner of dry and wet cat food mixed together, taken a sip of water, and is settling in for a nap.
Before long, Edna’s husband, Harold, will be home from work. He usually closes up his Nuts ‘N Bolts hardware store on Main Street around 6 pm. Once he switches the front window sign to CLOSED and locks the door, it’s just a short walk to the Sanders’ house. This evening, the family dog, Boomerang, will be at his side.
“It was fun having you at the store today, Boomer,” says Harold as he pats the Australian Shepherd’s head. “You were a lot of help today.” Harold gives him a dog treat from one of the many wooden barrels near the cash register. “Ruff,” says Boomer. Harold laughs. “I didn’t forget. I’ve got the calendar right here to bring home to mom. You ready to go?” Boomer wags his bobbed tail.
Once outside, the night air hits them. “Ooh. It’s a good thing I have my jacket, scarf and gloves. It’s a bit chilly this evening.” Boomer pulls on the leash. “You’re right. Let’s walk a little faster, shall we?”
In just a matter of minutes, Harold is reaching for his key to unlock the back door of the Sander’s house. “Honey, we’re home.”
Edna turns. “Hi sweetie. Come here Boom, let me give you a hug. Did you take care of dad today?”
Halley rolls her eyes. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”
Boomer gives her a look. “What’s with you?”
Halley sits up and looks right at him. “Boomer, you can’t even take care of yourself.”
Boomer sits quietly as Edna unhooks the leash from his collar and hangs it on the hook next to the door.
“Halley, you’re just jealous ‘cause people make a fuss over me at dad’s store,” says Boomerang.
Halley sighs. “No. Not jealous. Just amazed that humans can’t see you’re such a knucklehead.”
Boomer growls softly under his breath.
Meanwhile Harold puts away his jacket, scarf and gloves and goes over to Edna. He takes her in his arms and gives her a kiss. “I love you.”
Halley puts her paws over her eyes. “Oh, no. Boomer, they’re getting mushy again.”
Boomer looks away. “Is it over?”
Edna sees Harold has something in his hand. “What’s that?” she asks.
“Next year’s calendar. It’s the one you asked me to get for you,” says Harold.
“Oh, thank you dear. After dinner I want us to start thinking about our New Year’s Resolutions.”
Harold nods. “We can try. You know we’re not too good at following through with those.”
As he talks, Edna scoops dog food into Boomer’s bowl. “Here you go, boy.” Boomer chows down. He didn’t realize he was so hungry.
“Harold, our dinner will be ready in just a few minutes,” says Edna. “Halley’s already eaten.”
Harold crosses the room and strokes Halley’s head. She jumps into his arms. “And how’s our princess this evening, huh? Have you had a good day?”
Halley purrs and rubs her head against Harold’s cheek.
Boomer can’t believe what he’s hearing. “Princess? Did he just call you princess?”
Halley grins at Boomer. “Cool it, will ya? Clearly the man has good taste.”
Boomer groans. “Oh, brother.”
Once dinner is over and the dishes cleared, washed and put away, it’s time for some goal setting. Edna has her notepad and pen ready to go.
“All right. Where shall we begin?”
Harold clears his throat. “Well let’s start with some categories like personal, home, and work.”
Edna is thrilled. “That’s a great idea. We’ll list maybe two or three resolutions per category. Let’s keep it simple.”
With that, Edna rips off a couple of pages of paper and gives Harold a pen.
“This just might work. We’ve had too many New Year’s resolutions in the past and we don’t keep up.”
Edna is already writing. “Exactly. And, I think we should have some for Boomer and Halley, too.”
Both pets look up at the same time.
“Did she just say we’re going to be part of this?” asks Boomer.
Halley is worried. “What do they have in mind?”
Harold has a question. “What are you thinking for the kids?”
“Well,” says Edna, “I’m thinking agility classes for Boomer and walking on a leash classes for Halley. She still doesn’t have the hang of it yet.”
Harold likes these ideas. “By golly, woman. That could be fun!”
“Fun?” says Halley. “I know how to walk on a leash. But no self-respecting cat should be asked to do it!”
Boomer is confused. “Isn’t agility the same thing as my herding skills?”
Halley shakes her head. “Apparently not. You’re going to have to jump over things and crawl through stuff while running full out!”
“Why?” asks Boomer.
“Don’t ask me,” says Halley. “I don’t know why I have to wear a harness and be pulled down a sidewalk.”
Edna is happy that Harold likes her ideas. “This way we can build on what the kids already do well. We know Boomer runs fast, and he uses all his athletic skills to round up humans like nobody else.”
Boomer cocks his head. “Well, that’s true.”
Harold agrees with his wife. “Yes, and Halley likes to show she can do things other cats can’t do. It gets people to notice her and she adores being the center of attention.”
Halley sighs. “He knows me so well.”
The thought of Halley strutting down Main Street makes Edna smile. “So, now that we’ve figured out what the kids will do, what about us?”
Harold thinks for a moment. “Well, under the personal column, I want to get in better shape, spend more time with you and the kids, and take my Cub Scout troop on a special outing.”
Edna has some thoughts for that column, too. “I want to lose about 10 pounds, come up with new recipes for the Edna’s Kitchen cookbook I’m writing, and find ways to better show how much I appreciate my family, friends, and this wonderful community.”
Edna looks at Harold. “What’s wrong?”
“Absolutely nothing. Have I told you lately that you are a wonderful person?”
Edna responds. “I feel the same way about you. You know, we’re really lucky.”
And that’s where we leave the Sanders’ family on this evening in late December. Harold and Edna continue to write down the rest of their resolutions.
Halley is now snoozing soundly on her window seat. Boomer curls up on his dog bed right below her and yawns. A new year is right around the corner. There will be celebrations and many more opportunities for expressing kindness and caring from the good folks in the small Southern town of Shady Pines.