A Boy and His Turtles: Christmas 1987

The story below is Andy’s. It is about accepting the real nature of things, which is always appropriate at Christmas. We helped him write it up, and we sent it out as our Christmas message in 1987. People in their fifties and older often enjoy remembering holidays with young children. We like remembering this one, and we hope you will like it too.

Dad said I either had to do the dishes or write the Christmas note. I want to tell you about my turtles. Last spring I wanted turtles and Mom bought two. They were small and friendly, and I named them Dribble and Drabble. When we brought them home I put them in a pan on the front porch. Kevin was there and he wanted one but I said no. Dixie, our neighbor’s dog, was there too and she ate the turtle food.

I went to play, and when I got back, Dribble was gone. I thought Dixie ate him, so I went to the garage to get a stick to beat her. Mom caught me just as I was headed across the lawn, and she wouldn’t let me go. Mom said there was no proof Dixie ate it, and even if she did, I still couldn’t beat her. The next day I drew Dribble’s picture in a notebook and he looked like this:

We went to all the neighbors and asked if they had seen him, but no one had.

Meanwhile, Drabble escaped in the house. We looked all over but couldn’t find him. Mom was worried—she said he might die and stink. Now both my turtles were lost. Dad couldn’t help because he was still taking exams in law school. Mom went to the store and bought one more turtle—I named him Drizzle. Then Dad came home for the summer.

One or two days later our neighbor came over with a turtle. He had found it crawling across his front lawn, and it was Dribble—I knew it. We put him in the pan. Then Dad was bringing his stuff into the house and he almost stepped on Drabble as he was hurrying out of Dad’s bedroom. Now I had three turtles.

We kept the turtles all summer. Mom and Dad made me clean the turtle pan every day—well, almost every day. Some days I forgot and some days they helped. When we went on vacation my friend, Kirsten (and her mom), kept them for me. Mom was worried because turtles have salmonella, which is like a disease, but no one got sick.

As winter approached, Dad and Mom tried to talk me into letting my turtles go. They said turtles should be free. Turtles hibernate in mud in winter, and mine didn’t have any mud in the pan. I wanted to bring in some mud but Mom said no. Then Dad and I took a bike ride past a pond near our home. I said, “This looks like a good spot for the turtles.” It had a lot of mud. I guess turtles should be free so they can hibernate.

We took them to the pond and let them go in the mud. Dribble scooted out towards the water, found a soft spot in the mud, and buried himself right away. Drabble and Drizzle waited until after we left.

Merry Christmas.

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