It always seems as if no one works on Christmas Eve but us vets. Although most people don’t look forward to a visit to their own physician on this day, pet owners love to see the vet on the busiest shopping day of the year. It’s always crazy busy as if there’s no other day of the year more worthy for the annual ritual of vaccinations.

Clients bring us all manner of gifts: dog-shaped wine corks, cat-shaped wine bottle openers, bottles of Bailey’s or Amaretto. They all think we must be lushes to survive in our profession. Either that or that we’re direly in need of inebriation. Same thing.

Occasionally, I receive a fabulous present like a $200 Starbucks card, a Barnes and Noble gift certificate, or a spa package. Mostly, though, its piles and piles of boxed chocolates and cookies—usually stale, as if from the neighborhood drug store’s last year’s supply.

After the annual pilgrimage to Camillus House, our local homeless shelter, for disposal of abovementioned unwanted treats, it’s off to the Cuban pork fest that is Noche Buena. Then I can think of work all over again as the little piggie roasts in its own juices and little children try to stick things up its nose while the adults giggle over brandy and cigars, picking off bits of skin every now and then—a thoroughly disgusting tradition I adore.

To think—the second holiest day of the year and we blaspheme the piggie. I guess it would be different if it were a little lamb instead of lechón.