‘Tis November, the month when cats understand us least.
Why are we frittering away our lives reading clickbait like “47 Sentimental Snowmen For Hard-To-Shop-For Stepfathers” and “Sherpa Turtlenecks Your Boss Really Wants”?
Why are we spending weeks preparing for poultry, when we could be eating it hourly?
And what’s the deal with “giftable”?
If you’re as neurotic as I am, you are (a) sadly 0% feline and (b) already agitating over holiday shopping. You are also likely (c) taking this entirely too seriously.
You want to make your people happy. You want to avoid assaulting them with unsolicited socks. You want to give gifts that will make them know, once and for all, that they are seen and known and loved and luminous.
It’s an awful lot to ask of an air-fryer.
Some of us turn, in desperation, to the dangerous realm of “crafting.” Perhaps the puff-paint sweatshirt is just the thing to say, “you restore my soul when it is weary.” Maybe the beaded bookmark will finally declare, “you give me a home in this howling world.” We just need to find something properly “giftable.”
To which, our baffled feline overlords ask, “what is the matter with you?”
The answer to that question is, of course, too long to type.
So today, we’ll just tackle the breathless burden of “giftable.”
Burdens are a mystery to Baby, whose spirituality consists of carrying as little as possible. Born with Nutella-like sweetness where most creatures have “nuance,” Baby is as straightforward as a Sheetz gift card. (Let the reader understand that Baby promises to make honorable use of any Sheetz gift cards you may wish to send him. He will solemnly purchase every possible permutation of Shmuffin, for science.)
If Baby loves you (which he does, whether you are Dolly Parton or Genghis Khan), Baby tells you. If you don’t get the message, Baby tells you again. If you are still saddled with any sort of sadness or existential dread, Baby will continue to tell you until you have been successfully told.
Baby is prepared to devote the rest of his life to this project.
In Baby’s eyes, you are the gift. In the expressive angle of Baby’s ever-talking ears, you are the entire periodic table. (Don’t tell him I told you, but he has nicknamed you Iridescent Iridium. Never mind. He wants you to know.)
But nowhere, in the colorful canyons of Baby’s mind, is there a place for “giftable.”
This may be because everything in Baby’s life has come as a gift, which makes it difficult to sift the worthy from the worrisome.
“Gift” is not be the word we’d choose for diabetes. The inability to produce insulin is not something you or I would wreathe in ribbons and gilded pine cones. To our beady eyes, Baby’s lot in life is a lot like the misbegotten craft with crooked beads and gloppy glue. It’s messy. It’s amateurish. It’s not giftable.
But Baby, the cat without nuance, is incapable of looking askance at his own life. He walks into the showroom of his personal history and tilts those ears with pleasure. “I’ll take it all.”
After all, it was the greasy gift of diabetes that plopped him in mercy’s front window. The melted crayons of a broken pancreas were colorful enough to catch love’s attention. The bungled body from the scratch-and-dent shop was #1 on hope’s list of 2023’s Top Treasures.
The surface of sorrow was just the packaging around something precious: the future.
With no nuance and no cool, Baby is feasting on his November (and yours, if you’ll share). The gruel led to the gravy. The diagnosis led to deliverance. The inconceivable led to the unconditional.
Baby’s troubles have been his airlift to great heights. Having seen the power of imperfect presents, you can’t blame Baby for questioning the whole concept of “giftable.”
What you can do, is give, with galumphing abandon.
Stop chasing the perfect when you have a closet full of presence. Stop torturing over tokens when you can tell the truth of how much you love. Stop riffling through your history with a critical eye, when every loose thread has led to the textured kindness of today.
Stop waiting weeks for Thanksgiving when there are so many turkeys in need of consumption now. Consumption by Baby.
Be consumed by the gift of your life.
Feast on Baby’s devotion.
Feed somebody else. Starting with Baby.
Dance on the gift table, just as you are.