Quick: name your top ten favorite living creatures of all time.
Let’s restrict it to cats.
Still too hard?
I mean it. That says something good, right and downright holy about you.
This fall, my favorite radio station made the outrageous request of its listeners that we submit our top ten favorite songs of all time. After initially thinking “this will be fun! Definitely Three Little Birds! Obviously Forever Young!”, I rapidly disintegrated into a puddle of Mumford and Sons lyrics, apologizing to all the singers, songwriters, and singer-songwriters who I couldn’t cram into a measly ten.
(To say nothing of LL Cool J, One Direction, or The Venerable Dolly Parton.)
It got me to thinking about our Tabby’s Place cats. I’d be lying if I said we didn’t each have favorites, but the longer you hang around cats, the longer your list of beloveds grows. Pretty soon you’re adding qualifiers like, “well, Bucca is my favorite cat over age 18,”* or “Bianca is my favorite cat currently snoozing in the northwest corner of the Community Room.”
And that’s a good thing.
Because we all yearn and dream and deserve to be the favorite.
If The Holiday Season(TM) — even this year, especially this year — is all about the soul finding its worth, you’d better believe we’re at our best when we find each other’s worth, too.
Every “each other.”
Yep, even those others. (We each have our own “those others.”)
We want Tabby’s Place to be your favorite cat sanctuary/nonprofit/entity in existence. But we also want you to have ten thousand other favorites, and to treasure each one totally.
We want Bucca and Bianca and all our starry host of cats to be your favorite cats, but we want your heart to be huge enough that hundreds of favorites cram inside, like saints on the back of a pickup, like songs in a countdown that goes on into eternity, like a soul fully convinced of its worth.
This is the season (secret: it is always the season) to love without counting.
To give without measuring.
To cherish without calculation.
So, although I will enjoy this impossible countdown (especially since it seems to be leaning very heavily on The Most Blessed Bruce), I will also take it as a cautionary tale.
It seems too hard to pick favorites because it’s supposed to be too hard.
We’re supposed to be lovemonsters.
We’re supposed to choose it all.
And one of these years, we’ll look in the mirror, and we’ll see faces that have been gnarled and wrinkled and made wonderful by all that loving.
Maybe even this year.
Maybe especially this year.
So let’s all — cats and humans and songs and sighs — climb up to the top of the tree together. 2020 needs all the stars and saints and angels it can get, and we’re all worthy of the love and the light that will keep this weary world rejoicing.
Even in the waiting.
Especially in the waiting.
Merry Christmas, kittens. You are my favorites.
*OK, obviously Bucca is my actual and absolute favorite, cento percento, numero uno. But sometimes true favoritism is merited (e.g. Bucca Rosenberg, Mavis Staples, O Brother Where Art Thou, hugs).