...is that it comes whether you're ready or not.
It comes if you haven't finished shopping, much less wrapping gifts. It comes if you're expecting people for dinner and you put off grocery shopping until the last minute, and then discover the grocery store closed early for Christmas Eve. It comes if you have a cold, and your kid is throwing up, and your dog was up all night having seizures and is in intensive care at the emergency vet.
Not that I would know personally.
Sadly, my sweet dog Molly is in fact spending Christmas Eve day with the emergency vet. She had multiple massive seizures last night--all night--and finally, at 5:30 this morning, she had one from which she could not recover. My husband took her to the emergency vet, where it was discovered that she had a fever of 107 and swelling in her brain. After large doses of Valium and phenobarbitol and an ice-water bath, she is now sleeping. She is expected to wake sometime this evening, at which point we will see how she is. I am afraid she may not be coming home.
We have explained the situation to the kids. We have tried to prepare them for the likely loss of the dog who has been an ever-present friend and guardian all of their lives. We have accepted that there may not be anything else we can do; dogs don't live as long as people. But for heaven's sake--did it have to be on Christmas Eve?