The Christmas Kitty (Revisited) by
Wenton L. Davis
In 2015, I wrote my Christmas greeting thoughts into "The Christmas Kitty." I knew then that there were not many Christmases I'd be sharing with Ulurnie, and this past July, she passed away. Now, five months later, the quiet house still feels oddly empty. Her death was immediately followed by the completely unwanted discovery that the fence in the back yard needed replacement, making the next several months as financially painful as losing my dear cat. It took three full months, but the new fence is up, although the finances are still not in such great shape. They rather resemble my feelings after losing Ulurnie, and I find myself without the creative heart to write much this year. So - it somehow feels appropriate to reshare "The Christmas Kitty."
It seems that once again, we have reached the time of year when we can turn to each other and smile and share the words, "Welp.... we survived another one!" Every year, one of the celebrations of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's is the successful completion of another year, and preparations to transition from one to the next. And so, before I get too far, congratulations to all!
Naturally, part of the great annual celebration is the gift-rampage, where we all run wildly out into the streets to buy gifts for each other in a wild attept to outperform the previous year and to proclaim, "Nuh-uh, I love YOU more!" And I have to admit that once again, despite my plans to the contrary, I have again found myself out in the melee rather than carfully and gradually collecting gifts earlier in the year. How many of us make that same promise every year, and every year, find ourselves in that last minute celebration of chaos?
I was pleased with myself, this year, because I only fell to strolling the mall for a few remaining gifts. In some strange way, I found it a bit disappointing because there felt to be an odd shortage of lights, music, and overall celebration. I couldn't help but notice the number of vacancies and empty shops in the mall. One of the most profound absentees was the calandar shop, which was nowhere to be found. Perhaps the many empty stores might also explain how the crowd seemed rather thinned. Even the site for kids to jump up into Santa's lap, share their wish list, and get their picture taken seemed to have been pushed off into a remote corner of the mall.
Feeling somewhat unfullfilled, I took my few bags of remaining gifts and headed for the car. At least one thing was not missing - the child crying while being hauled out to the car, presumably about getting whatever over-priced shiny toy or gadget they saw in some store or another. At first the child was hard to understand, but he was clearly crying, "I want the kitty!" The poor little guy's anguish was heart-breaking, but maybe not so much as his mother's response that he was embarassing her. So, chewing on my tongue, I continued to wander the parking lot, wondering just where I had left my car.
After finding my car and driving home, I found myself sitting in my chair, cuddling my own kitty. I remembered one of my friends who had recently lost her kitty, and while my own cat purred wildly, I considered how lucky I am to have her, and how she has enriched my life for so many years, knowing that there are likely to be very few ahead. And at some level, I thought about the boy at the mall, and his mother's angry "no, no, no." I felt badly for him, but at the same time, I had to recognize that pets are a huge responsibility, and he might have been 3 years old; hardly ready for the responsibilities.
Still, I continued to scratch my cat, who at this time was already fast asleep on my lap. I couldn't help but think about all the money I had just spent on cat food, earlier today, the frustration of being woken up several times the previous night... for what, I still never figured out. But then, it struck me. While it can be argued that nearly all pets are here to provide us with love and companionship, our feline freinds, or "felon friends" as we may think of them from time to time, do far more than provide love. It seems to me that cats, more than other pets, are trojan horses of a sort - they are gifts we get from the Universe to challenge and test us....
While dogs are more known for their unconditional love, cats are generally known as far more descriminating. The love of a cat is more often earned, sometimes only after great efforts. Cats can be more temperamental, and I've even known some cats to seem unforgiving in some cases.
I am sure that we can all find any number of entitled people who seem to believe they should be loved and adored by everyone just because they exist. They seem to be found in increasing numbers and commonality. They are increasingly self-satisifed, and they are increasingly rude. As we all know, Lord protect the person that treats these people the same way they treat others. "You have to love me, but I don't have to care about you one way or the other," seems to be a proud mantra they share. I do not know how many of them own cats, but I feel it is probably safe to assume that they treat their cats with the same enigmatic one-sided love they share with people. From there, it is hardly a great leap to conclude that the cats probably view this behavior much the same was as the rest of us do; with contempt and a certain dettached "whatever," as we turn and walk away.
The love of a cat is not a gift that resembles our "See? I love you more," that we seem to share. A cat's love is a reward, perhaps a "Well done, good and faithful servent."
Returning for the moment to our little boy in the parking lot, "I want the kitty!" I have to chuckle and how that resembles the human need to find love and acceptance from the people around us. The love of a kitty resembles goals and achievements in our lives. More importantly, it resembles the reward of dedication and diligent work, not the freely-given "participation" award that seems to placate the feeble hearts and minds of our entitled neighbors.
But there is a deeper level to this, as well. Personally, I have found this past year has brought me a lot of cold "no"s such as what our little friend was hearing from his mother. As many of us know, but perhaps do not understand, we face the word "no" many times in a single day. Every goal, every wish, every dream that we reach for requires us to test our reach. The simple goals are easily within reach, and they bring us a small amount of joy as we reach them. It is often sad how many people choose to only reach these small goals, and consider that to be a success. I am priviledged, I suppose, because my life is full of people who are not so easily satisfied. I am surrounded by people who strive for higher goals and higher expectations from life. These are the people who reach for things that are out of their reach, but do not give up. They (We) push and fight and struggle to reach prizes that others simply stare at with the cold dismissal, "That's too far." And when we do finally reach our prizes, the joy and satisfaction surpasses the dreams of those entitled fools that failed by not even bothering to try.
And here, my cat is stretching out on my lap, purring to a near-roar. Or perhaps she is mixing a purr with a snore, it is a little difficult to tell, sometimes. For the few people that have met her, she is a very friendly kitty, but like other cats, she will not be shy to let a person know when she does not like someone. And I laugh aloud at those occasional times where she is clearly is trying to mother me. Most recently, she has started trying to make sure I am not cold - she will come get me and meow and beg me to follow her to a place she knows is warm, largely because she abandoned that place to come find me. It amuses me that she feels it necessary to "take care of me," but again, it shows a kind of love that we all should be so lucky to find... or earn.
"I want the kitty!"
Yes, of course you do. We all do.
My Christmas wish for us all is that we all find a "kitty" to love, and that we all find that "kitty" loves us, as well.
One of my all-time favorite pictures of Ulurnie; she was always ready to play, even the evening before she died. She went through six surgeries (not counting being spayed and the hip replacement) and she had finally been cancer-free for over six months before she died. Even the vet called her our tough little miracle kitty because of how well she rebounded from ther surgeries. She was a loving and wonderful kitty who was purring at the time she died.