‘Tis the season when we’re all wound a tad too tight.
But if the festive ribbon is already choking out your cheer, don’t suffer alone.
It’s Black Friday, that most American abomination of an unholyday, and I have it on good authority you’re feeling the pressure.
After all, this is the Most Wonderful Time Of The Year.
After all, this is the Most Wonderful Time Of The Year After The Year Of Pestilence, Kind Of, Although Pestilence Is Still Creeping Around.
After all, this is the two-month period when we try to cram all of our love and all of our ambivalence and all of our sacred scared secret hopes into gift bags and Tofurkey dinners.
After all, you’re human.
Fortunately, you’re surrounded by cats.
In the cosmology of cats, every day is a feast day, a high holy day, and a clattering of Christmases and solstices and fireworkworthy dazzle-days. But cats are constitutionally allergic to the kind of calendar-bound agita that angsts us up, poor naked birds that we are.
Cats know better than to expect too much of any given season, and they know far better than to expect too little of every ordinary day.
While we’re bracing ourselves for last bite of the crunchy candy bar that was 2021 (some of the crunch was macadamia magic; some of it was cicada bits), the cats are just coping and loping and lavishing the world with their spectacularity.
Even when they’re equal parts spectacular and insufferable.
Rose and Carbon are decking the halls and bedecking our bliss even when they’re decking each other in the solarium tube. If you think this is a sight to behold, you’re understating the case. On our left, one tailless diapered dame the size of a fruitcake; on our right, one shining ornament of a madman who came out of the Cat Factory with a leftover voice box from the Duck Factory, such that he quacks rather than meows.
In a perfect and pristine world, Santa would have issued recalls on both of these specialty items.
But our world, being far more wonderful and weird than anything “perfect” or “pristine,” has ample room in its stockings for strange splendorbeasts like Carbon and Rose.
Even if they find each other insufferable, which they do. (Cue quacking, slapping, and diaper-slipping shenanigans. George Bailey, we need your sweet spirit in Solarium C.)
Down the hall, Elliot is singing chaos-carols so salty, he’s an entire green bean casserole of crazed. The elf who will not sit still on anyone’s shelf, our oversized kitten got himself banished from the Kitten Room to the North Pole, which is to say Suite B, for his habit of attempting to bite the heads off all the little gingerbread men, which is to say kittens.
Incontinent, insubordinate, ineffably and inelegantly in love with every iota of himself: Elliot is unapologetically insufferable. He preens and puffs his pfefferneuse-white self up, and he has himself and all of us convinced that he’s the literal best gift that ever skidded under New Jersey’s crooked Christmas tree. He’s all of the above, and he’s loving every minute.
He is not, however, counting the minutes and pennies saved on Black Friday (although he is a big believer in Small Business Saturday, let the reader understand).
Nor is Grecca, who is too busy singing All I Want For Christmas Is Goo at the top of her extraordinary lungs from the Lobby.
Nor is Bow, whose sole request for Santa is a return trip to the Jazz Age — or, better yet, the Silent Era. She is surrounded by idiots and peons and insufferable creatures of at least two species, none of whom seem to fully grasp the grandeur of Who She Is.
Nor is Mousy, who wants to be everyone’s best friend even more than he wants you to give him the twelve velour blankets of Christmas, which is saying quite a lot.
Nor is your hapless writer here, even though she overuses the word “beloved” and hides like a child and forgets to cherish the earth beneath her feet and the splendorbeasts right in front of her.
The truth is, we’re all insufferable.* The better part of life is spent finding the people who will suffer us joyously. Not begrudgingly: any non-monster can do that. Not patronizingly and pityingly: any insufferable do-gooder can do that. But truly joyously.
To suffer us in all our foolishness.
To suffer us in all our tantrums and twitches.
To suffer us with such love and so many twinkles in their eyes, we’re all sleighed through the sky to a place beyond suffering and judgment and list-making fear.
So fear not, kittens, as we hurtle into another holiday season. It’s OK if agita has you up at 3 am, nibbling stale candy corn and clicking bait like How Often Should You Wash Your Towels? and The 46 Most Bangin’ Gifts For Uncle-In-Laws. It’s OK if you’ve forgotten the words to all the carols. It’s OK if all you want is to feel OK, even though you know you’re not OK.
Neither am I.
So let’s suffer the stuffing out of each other. Let’s sing a better, gentler song. Let’s merry-make, catstyle, owning our own idiocies and tenderly holding each other’s up to the candlelight.
Suffering is inevitable. Miracles are everywhere. Rejoicing is up to us. Your move.
*Except for Bucca, which goes without saying.