The worst Christmas ever?

The week before Christmas of 1982, our family dog, Popcorn, of 14 years died. My mother was heartbroken. Knowing my mom wasn't ready for another real dog, my dad and I went out to buy a stuffed animal to temporarily fill the void.

My father thought we should get one that closely resembled Popcorn — not an easy assignment. Popcorn was a white, fluffy, 50-pound mixed breed mutt with shades of terrier and poodle.

After trudging through store after store in search of his likeness, we finally hit the jackpot at a card and party store (no longer there) below what is now Burlington Coat Factory, near The Cake Lady in New London.

This beautiful white fluffy stuffed dog happened to be a musical toy. As would make sense, Dad and I thought the song would be something like, "How Much Is That Doggie In The Window?" We didn't bother to try it; we just wanted to get home to wrap it and put it under the tree.

On Christmas morn, we saved "the gift" for last, hoping to bring tears of joy to my mom who was still glum and missing her big dog, Popcorn.

As she unwrapped the ribbons and bows and parted the tissue paper, the white fluffy stuffed dog was uncovered. She cradled the dog in her hands, all the while crying over her recent loss.

Here I came to save the day!

"Mom, don't be sad. It's a wind-up toy with a cute little song," I said. Much to our surprise, the song started playing: "Where, oh where, has my little dog gone?"

Lesson learned: Wind up the toy in the store before you bring it to the register.


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