“Look, there’s literally a trillion things I’m NOT allergic to, and like ONE thing I am and now you’re telling me that one thing is running around your house?”
“Yeah, I’m literally going to die this Christmas…”
“No way – Guinea Pigs can’t climb things or jump on things!”
“Are you sure about that?”
“Um, I’ve completed almost 4 years of vet school. I’m pretty sure I know a thing or two about Guinea Pigs.”
“Google says they can jump and climb on some things. I’m trying to figure out if those things are stairs and beds…”
Welcome to The Dixon House, Christmas Eve 2016.
As you may have surmised by the above transcript, I got a Guinea Pig for my 7 year old nephew this year (feel free to ask me why Guinea Pigs make the perfect first pet). You may have also picked up that my little brother is really allergic to Guinea Pigs. Not so allergic that he has to carry an EpiPen around in the case of accidental Guinea Pig exposure, but allergic enough to be slightly peeved when I rushed into the room and whispered, “We have an escapee on our hands.”
I picked up the Guinea Pig a week ago to give me time to socialize it and try to get it used to being handled. Although we’ve made some progress, the damn thing is still absolutely feral, and tonight, when I was cleaning out his cage, he escaped. There wasn’t any place for him to really hide in my room (or so I thought), so I didn’t panic and continued cleaning. When it was time for the little piglet to be returned to his kingdom, he was nowhere to be found.
I checked all the usual spots: behind my trunk, behind my vanity, behind my record player. No pig. I then pulled everything off the wall and checked the full perimeter of my room. Nada. I crawled on my hands and knees with a flashlight checking every square inch of the floor. I started to get nervous and picked up my shoe rack and guitar case and tossed them on the bed. I pulled my dresser out of the closet and searched the mummified spider infested domain of its underside.
Not only was there no Guinea Pig in site, all the Guinea Pig sounds he usually makes were also missing. I threw a handful of hay into the middle of my floor and left for reinforcements. What if he had somehow squeezed under my door when I wasn’t looking? He could be anywhere in the house – which would be bad enough in and of itself. The situation was complicated further by the presence of my nephew in the basement watching Elf.
I had a vision of the Guinea Pig running right past the television, simultaneously terrifying my nephew and ruining his big Christmas Surprise.
I told Mom what had happened and she searched my room. My sister lent a hand also, but only after letting me know her thoughts about how ridiculous this situation was and how I was ruining Christmas, as usual.
The brother stayed in my mom’s room, envisioning his untimely Christmas Eve death and hoping I wouldn’t bury him in the awesome Christmas present I have for him under the tree.
An hour later, no Guinea Pig.
Sister suggested we bring the empty cage and tell our nephew that we’ll take him to the pet store to pick out a Guinea Pig for Christmas. I brought up that I’d already spent $40 on a Guinea Pig! Besides, it wasn’t fair to our little MIA furball to abandon the search so soon!
Mom suggested letting Huckleberry into the room to sniff the Guinea Pig out. Huck’s been very interested (and so far very gentle) with the little piggy, but I worry that seeing it run around might arouse some sort of hunting instinct in him. Still, the pig’s pretty quick, and I figured Huck might be able to at least point us in the right direction. We let him into my room.
Huck immediately ran over to my duffle bag.
“You think that thing is hiding in the duffle bag?”
Huck dug his head deep into the duffle as we crept in closer, listening for the squeal of what was surely to be a terrified Guinea Pig.
Huck pulled out a candy wrapper.
He then, crawled under the covers and went to bed. Huckleberry is absolutely no help.
The Guinea Pig had been missing almost two hours. Everyone thought I was ruining Christmas and endangering my baby brother. And Google was still disagreeing with my assessment of Guinea Pig agility.
I walked down the stairs and checked by the Christmas tree, thinking he might have been instinctually called towards a glowing plastic Douglas Fir. Still no pig.
My mom was sitting quietly on the bed, hoping he’d make an appearance. We made the rounds through the three upstairs bedrooms one last time. My little sister even took the vents off the heating ducts, just in case the Guinea Pig was able to defy the laws of physics.
I went back downstairs where my other sister was sitting and threw my hands up in the universal signal “Sorry I ruined your son’s Christmas by letting his surprise run away.”
She told my nephew to keep watching the movie and that she’d be back in a minute.
“I’m sorry! I don’t know what to do! We can’t find him anywhere!”
“Hm, I’ll take a look *opens door* There he is!”
And sure enough, as soon as my sister had opened my door, the Guinea Pig froze in the middle of the room, a look of terror frozen on his face.
We corralled him into a corner. I told the rest of the family that Christmas could continue as planned and popped the little fugitive back into his cage.
With the Guinea Pig secured, we all went downstairs to continue watching the movie. It ended and my sister told my nephew to go get his coat, they needed to get home before Santa came. My nephew enthusiastically obeyed and was just tying his shoes as my mother started to reminisce, “I remember your father and I staying up so late on Christmas Eve, putting together bikes, wrapping presents…”
With our collective jaws on the floor, my siblings and I looked at my mom and then my nephew.
Had grandma just ruined Christmas on CHRISTMAS EVE by confessing to be Santa Claus?
My mom looked in horror at her only grandchild and tried to recover. She stammered, “Of course we stayed up late but then had to rush to bed so Santa could come!”
I don’t know if he heard that explanation. My siblings and I were laughing so hard, tears were streaming down our faces. Well, one of my siblings was not laughing. Not even a little. My sister looked at her son and said, “Its time to go home. NOW.”
And I couldn’t help myself, as she drove out of sight, I said, “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”