In one sense, the answer to this post’s title* is obviously “no.”
Cats do not keep calendars. They do not have a Linus-level grasp of what Christmas is all about. They do not, in fact, know that we are approaching December 25th, the day on which humans celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and exchange Chia Pets and Clappers.
But in a larger sense, I daresay that the cats do know it’s Christmas.
They see the tinsel, but it’s not in the tinsel.
They see the hat-related buffonery, but it’s not in the buffoonery.
They see saw** the fiber-optic tree, but it wasn’t in the fiber-optic tree.
They see the human beans — cranky, quirky, odd-as-an-Ugli-Fruit human beans — seeping joy. And the joy knocks them off all four feet with wonder.
It’s not often that our species impresses the feline kind. But when they see us loving — not just loving them, which goes without saying, but loving each other — they know something supernatural is afoot.
Make no mistake: the cats see our gratitude. They see our hugs. They see our extra patience. And they know, in that deep way that cats know, that something is especially right with the world. (They also know that we are kind of dim, albeit in a cute way. But that’s true 365 days a year.)
Beyond what they see in us on our best days, I sometimes wonder: do the cats enjoy their own sort of communion with God? Do they hear His voice, and what does He say? (Perhaps, “Please forgive My humans. And please take good care of them. That’s why I sent you.”) Do they know that a great Light has dawned, and the darkness can neither understand nor overcome it?
I daresay they do.
We are at our best when we echo Christmas Hallelujahs into the cats’ lives — and each other’s — regardless of the calendar. And, human or feline, we are our truest selves when we know it’s Christmas.
*This post comes with heartfelt apologies, since you are now undoubtedly afflicted with that mid-80s earworm and runner-up in the Most Atrocious Christmas Songs of All Time, Do They Know It’s Christmas? Or, as it’s also known, “Fee Thuh Wuh.” And let’s not even get started with “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” or its mysteriously lesser-known sequels, “I Saw Daddy Fist-Fighting Santa Claus” and “We Three Psychotherapists.”
**Which has, indeed, met its demise.
Thanks to the Christmas cavalcade of AwesomeAdopters who submitted their alumni photos. That top thumbnail, of course, is none other than the magnificent Barley.