We are not in control.*
We are not as powerful as cats.
But we are not entirely helpless.
Cats are not exactly in control, either, despite their unwavering confidence to the contrary.
Without assistance, Anka cannot take his stroller walk. Without aid from above, Cotton cannot ascend to great heights. Without servants equipped with opposable thumbs, Divya cannot consume 40 cans of fish mush each day.
But they are not without power.
Angelo can wheedle around your ankles long enough to get you to feed him — or at least, to attend to him, to look upon his glory, to love him with your hands if not with a Denny’s Grand Slam Breakfast (which would be his primary love language).
Stanley can reel you in, by the sheer force of his wonder-wheeze and his gentle green gaze, so that you’ll pet him and pamper him and remind him that he is, in fact, the greatest.
Shifty can (AND WILL) sing plaintive folk songs in the tiniest little choirboy voice until your defenses are destroyed and you find yourself on the phone to Domino’s, explaining that, yes, all you want is extra cheese, hold the crust, a bucket would be fine.
Heather, intense and exceptional, has regular bouts of The Sads. But she’s learned to greet them by blasting herself under the softest, heaviest, fuzziest blanket she can find. (She is working with the My Pillow guy to market a superblanket called the SadBeGone[TM].)
Ronnie, our trembling tuxedo, would prefer that we keep Tabby’s Place at a balmy 89 degrees at all times. But although he can’t commandeer the thermostat, he can hunker down atop the printer, communing with its wondrous warmth.
There are always things they can do to make themselves feel better.
And, as it turns out, so can we. Which is a good thing, since The Sads are more contagious than that other virus, and I don’t trust the My Pillow guy enough to buy anything he’s selling. (Be careful, Heather.)
I have a lifelong history of getting whacked by The Sads every time Christmas ends. I was very young when I first learned that you’re “allowed” to keep the tree and the trinkets and every last glowing light up until Epiphany, but all that could do was buy me time. Sure enough, the Wise Men came, and the lights were unplugged, and all the nutcrackers and gnomes and Christmas creatures retreated back to the basement.
I’m still very young in everything but years, so it wasn’t terribly surprising when The Sads slammed in with Sumo-sized force this post-Christmas. This year, though, the cats whispered something in my ear.
I think it was Bucca — of course it was Bucca — who reminded me that I am an adult, for good and for ill. This means that, not only do I never have to eat green bean casserole again, but also, I can make choices that make me feel better. Specifically: I can keep a corner of Christmas glowing defiantly against the calendar.
I can. And I did.
As January lumbers on, and all through February, whatever spring and summer and fall may bring, a tiny, plug-in pastel Christmas tree will be cheering me up from its corner. It’s a piece of plastic; it’s more than a little absurd; it’s a reminder that good endures and light outlasts the darkness.
It’s my atom of agency.
The Sads never saw it coming.
And if my little plug-in pastel Christmas tree should burn out, I won’t despair. I’ll find my way to choose my joy, a scared bold child, half-cat, half-oddity, full-dunderhead, taught by felines and nurtured by the gentleness that is absolutely everywhere.
So comfort yourselves all catlike, kittens.
The choice is yours.
*This is a very, very, very good thing, but that’s another blog post.