With apologies to Santa, I’m asking the cats for gifts this year.
Besides, I’d rather sit Bucca in my lap than personally sit in a bearded globetrotter’s lap any day.
No, no, Santa, I mean no offense. You’re the greatest. You will always be the greatest.
It’s just that only the cats have what I’m after this Christmas.
I’m not talking about the usual glorious cat gifts we all love — purrs and unconditional love and slain lizards and healing.
I’m hankering for that lesser-known, under-sung secret, available only from such Santas as these.
It’s not secret on account of cats’ secret-keeping abilities. They’ve been shouting this unlimited-time offer from the rooftops since approximately 7,500 BC. But we’re a sluggish species, slow to catch on, slow to receive.
Still, they keep giving, naturally singing.
And the gift they’re giving, the gift I’m requesting this Christmas, is this: people.
You read that right. People. Homo sapiens. Flawed, fractious, holy human beans.
In my 9.5 years at Tabby’s Place, I have met the kindest human beings I have ever met (sole exception being my own parents, who I met a little earlier than that). And just when I’m sure the entire living population of saints has already entered our orbit, the cats introduce us to another human animal that blows us all away.
Love comes in as many packages as these peculiar people. Some of them are staff. Many of them are volunteers. Galumphing hordes of them are donors, and blog readers, and Facebook homies, and visitors who arrive unbidden and leave us all convinced that we’ve entertained angels.
These self-sacrificing souls will tell you to your face that they prefer cats to people. They wear the chips on their shoulders as elegantly as diamond drop earrings, but make no mistake: they are chipped and cracked, squeezed and scratched the way only truly sensitive souls can be.
They have come to Tabby’s Place because still, still, they believe love is a worthy cause.
Still, after it all, they give.
They love again.
They scramble through the brambles to catch frightened feral cats. They give their days and years and life’s work to cleaning and caressing and healing and hustling for cats who will love them and hiss at them and ignore them and fart at them and save their souls.
They are music in motion.
For years, I confess I felt a tad like a fraud among such folk. They were out there, doing the gritty hands-on work of self-emptying love. I was the bumbling wordsmith in the ivory tower, telling the tales and raising the money and screaming like a little girl if I got scratched.
But the people — the people that cats give — don’t give me the luxury of feeling fraudy.
When all of heaven and nature are singing a new song, there are no unnecessary voices.
This Christmas, righteous and radical readers, I am immensely grateful that the cats gave us you. Thank you for being the gift. Sing on.