Christmas cards.

Oy.

So we decided to take our Christmas card picture in front of the fireplace this year. Easy. Cheap. Convenient.

First I purchased Santa Hats for the boys. They recently all got buzz cuts, and are still not completely sold on the new "look." Santa hats are whimsical, and will cover what they don't want people to see.

Then I decorated the mantle. Stockings, check. Candles, check. Roaring fire, check.

As I went down the mental checklist for pics, I heard my sons say,

"Mojo! We need to find your Jingle Collar!"

Oh right. The dog. Besides the fact that the constant jingle from his Jingle Collar makes him perpetually paranoid, he would need to get cleaned up. His matted fur would not do.

As luck would have it, his groomer had an appointment open. So I loaded Mojo in the truck and started the engine.

"Awesome, Mom, where are we going? Beach? Dog treat store? Grandmom's?" Mojo lolled his big pink doggie tongue out the window.

"Ummm, it's a...surprise," I said. His big doggie grin beamed at me from the rearview mirror.

"Great!!!! I love surprises! I love Christmas! I love you, I love everyone!!" He did everything but jump in circles of joy.

As we neared the groomer, he pulled his nose into the truck and stared at me suspiciously.

"What's the surprise? The only thing near here is the video store and McDonalds. Can I have a milkshake?" He wagged his tail hopefully.

"Mojo, I'm sorry. You have to get groomed. I can't cut your matted hair, and you smell from the beach. I'm sorry."

I hopped out, and grabbed his leash. He would not budge from the back seat.

"C'mon, Mo. Please? I'll get you a milkshake on the way home." I tugged and pulled. He moved to the opposite side of the truck, and planted his back paws.

"No," he said. "You can't make me."

"Please? You love the people here, and it doesn't hurt." I kept tugging, to no avail.

"They hurt me last time, Mom. Remember the scab behind my ear?"

I paused. "They apologized for that, honey, remember?"

"Well, I won't go in. I weigh 95 pounds, you can't make me move if I don't want to."

Admitting defeat, I went to tell the groomer that we would have to cancel the appointment. The groomer, however, at six foot two, announced that he would be more than happy to carry him.

Jeff approached the truck, and opened the back door. He smiled warmly at Mojo, and greeted him like an old pal.

"Hey Mojo, hey buddy. What's this I hear that you don't want to come visit us today?"

Mojo eyed him up from the back seat, where he was taking refuge.

"It's true, Jeff. I'm just not in the mood. The clippers, the dryer, everything is so loud and scary. Thanks, though. Mom can cut my hair."

Jeff paused.

"Well, that's the thing, Mo. Your mom might hurt you with scissors if you move. Want me to carry you?"

"Hah! I'd like to see you try it!" Mojo stared at him, amused. "At my last vet appointment, I was closing in on a hundred pounds. You can't carry me."

We opened up the back door of the truck, and Jeff easily scooped Mojo up into his arms, like a big black fluffy baby. He assured me that once Mojo was in the office, he would be fine. I watched as he stared at me over Jeff's shoulder.

"Mom, how could you?" he said. "It's my fur, my life. I'm old enough now to make my own decisions about my hair. I like it matted, and I like to smell. No girls are gonna like me after this. I wish you would just butt out!"

It hurt. It hurts to let them grow up, doesn't it?