12.18.2020 | First Farmers Financial Corp.

Meet Joe Chapter Eight

Thank you to everyone who helped with our Furever Home campaign! We’re excited to announce that we’ll be donating over $10,000 to local animal shelters. Please enjoy the final installment of Joe’s story – we know he’d be thrilled!
Christmas. It’s no Thanksgiving, but it’s not too shabby either. This is my first Christmas with my new family, and their first Christmas in their new home. What a year we’ve had!

As I look back over the past 12 months, I have to say, it’s been a roller coaster! I still miss Larry, my old roommate, every once in a while. I hope he’s doing okay in Chicago and getting lots of time with his kids! That guy deserves all the happiness in the world!

When I landed in the shelter those few months ago, I managed to keep my hopes up. Somehow I knew I was headed for the home where I belonged, but I’ll admit it—I was a little bit scared too.

But now, look at me! I have Ethan, the best boy ever, not to mention Bella, Mom, Dad, and even Tadpole. So I knew that Christmas this year would be amazing! The food, the fun, the presents! But best of all, the family.

Things started out a little rough, come to think of it. It was a few days before the big guy delivered the presents, and Ethan was home on winter break. Oh joy! Oh happiness! As far as I was concerned, that was a present good enough to last all year by itself! Ethan was upset about something, though, I could just smell it. I couldn’t figure out what it could be. After all, what isn’t to love about life? It snowed! There was food cooking in the kitchen, fresh water in my bowl, and Tadpole hadn’t gotten up to her usual tricks for weeks! Come on, Ethan!

But I found out what the problem was one morning. “I miss Grandma,” Ethan declared. He dropped his spoon back in his cereal, crossed his arms, and became very un-Ethanish to my way of thinking. What was going on?

“I miss Grandpa too. And Sarah and Joe. I don’t want a small Christmas!”

Bella watched this with big eyes, apparently as confused as I was. Grandma and Grandpa? I knew about them, but I’d never even caught a whiff. I might have mentioned, things have been weird for the humans lately. Sarah and Joe? Not a clue!

Mom and Dad seemed to be in the know a little bit more than the rest of us. Mom wrapped her arm around Ethan’s shoulder and gave him a squeeze. “We all miss them, buddy,” she said. “We’ll be able to video chat, and open presents in front of everybody.”
“I don’t care about presents!” Ethan said, and frankly, I was shocked. Since when? Ethan and I had been sniffing the few presents already under the tree for the past few evenings, me probably getting more out of it than him, of course. I sat up, did my very best to pay attention. If something was so wrong that he didn’t care about presents, that seemed like something I should be taking care of. He’s my boy, after all!

Bella screamed out “Presents!” and ran off to take a look and make sure they were still there. Dad and Mom gave each other a look over Ethan’s head, and Tadpole chose that moment to jump on to the table, and incidentally, into Ethan’s cereal bowl.

“This stinks!” he yelled, and stormed off to his room. He didn’t even wait for me!

I spent the rest of that day trying to cheer my kid up. I brought him my favorite tennis ball, suggested we take a walk around the yard by tugging at his feet, and eventually gave up and just licked his face all over until he started laughing. But he still smelled sad. Mom and Dad were worried too, I could tell.

When we were laying in his room that night, close to sleep, Ethan started talking to me. Turns out, I’m a pretty good listener. “I know I shouldn’t yell at Mom and Dad,” he whispered, reaching down to scratch behind my ears. “It’s not their fault. I’m just sick of everything being so different. I want my family to come over, Joe. I want you to meet them! I want them to see our new house!”

So this was the problem. Ethan missed his family. I could understand. I vaguely remember being in a pile of puppies—my brothers and sisters, warm and cuddly, and my mom too. Family is great! Now I have a new family. I decided to pile into bed with Ethan. It’s all I could do really, and he gave me a hug and finally drifted off to sleep.

The next day, Mom and Dad called Grandma and Grandpa on the screen in the living room. Ethan smiled and laughed and seemed okay. Then they called Sarah and Joe, and it turns out, they’re kids! Like Ethan! He said they were his cousins. Christmas was in two days, and Ethan seemed to be on the mend. It’s hard to stay sad when you have Christmas to look forward to!

On Christmas Eve, we stayed in the house, watching movies, snacking, and I loved every minute of it. Late that night, Ethan was just about to fall asleep, even though he tried to stay up, apparently listening for reindeer on the roof.

I’ve always had my doubts about the whole flying reindeer routine. Have you ever seen sledding dogs? Now that’s a story I can get behind! Still, I let Ethan have his reindeer, though I was sure I’d smell any that happened to land on the roof!

I dozed off, and before I knew it, Christmas! And I had presents too! A new squeaky toy shaped like a pig, that I loved so much! And dog treats – the chewy kind! Even Tadpole had a few goodies under the tree. Things had pretty much calmed down when the family flipped on the TV, ready to video chat and share Christmas, even though they weren’t all together.

First we talked to Grandma and Grandpa, and Ethan had changed into the sweater that Grandma had made for him. But that wasn’t what made Christmas so special this year, at least not for me. Next, Sarah and Joe popped up on the screen, their parents in the background. But I only had eyes for her. My neighbor from the shelter, the husky, right there on the screen! I barked, she barked, and everybody laughed.

“Her name is Sasha!” Sarah said. “It looks like they can’t wait to meet each other.”

You can say that again, kid, I thought, my tail wagging. Christmas! What a day! I can’t wait to see what next year brings! Things were looking up, and I knew that I had finally found my home and my family, and I’m ready to enjoy all the adventures to come!
Thank you for reading Joe’s story! We hope you’ve enjoyed it, and from all of us at First Farmers Bank & Trust, Merry Christmas, Happy Holiday, and Happy New Year!