Li'l Ralphie, Elliot, Evelyn, and Lyla have been batting around our discarded wrapping paper after we opened our gifts. If I didn't tell you before, Elliot and Evie are the two kittens we rescued right after Li'l Ralphie came to live with us. But before we had found Li'l Ralphie by the side of the road, I had applied to adopt a cat at a shelter in North Carolina. She was brought to us by a pet shipper early one Saturday a few weeks ago. Though we have a bunch of cats already, there's always room for another in need of a home.
I have so many gifts this Christmas, but I didn't just get them today: I've had them all year round. Of course, my husband is my greatest gift, as well as my parents. I've got some special friends I cherish: like Sheryl, Mare, Terri, Tecu'mish, Samantha, Jeannie, Mary, Ruth, and Debbie, Judy and the Kennies. Then I've got my literary agent, Diana Flegal, who loves my writing and continues to forge ahead with my mss., despite the poor economy and the lousy state of publishing. I cherish her, and I told her so in a Christmas email this morning.
I am equally thankful for having most of my pets this Christmas, though I wish Fancy, in particular, could be enjoying it with us. And I'm taking time today to think about other pets, other horses, pot-bellies, and cats, llamas, and donkeys that have lived with us and have left us. Christmas this year resembles, in some ways, my special memorial day--thankful I've been lucky to have shared the gifts of those animals' lives.
I have to tell you all something that occurred to me the other day when Li'l Ralphie jumped into my lap and looked up at me. Though he has one blue, blind eye, I looked carefully at the markings on his fur coat. I never really noticed his beautiful white collar that stands out against his orange-striped coat. He sort of looks like a nun. And all his markings are so symmetrical--he's classical living art.
Ralphie's outstanding handsomeness made me think of the consideration, deliberation, and trouble that this force called Mother Nature takes for each of her creatures, no matter the vast number of them on Earth. Whether one believes in a Mother Nature as a force, an entity, or whatever, somewhere, something drives the genetics that gives each creature his or her own distinction. Each insect, fish, mammal is mapped out as an individual, no matter the sheer numbers of those creatures. Though the people who dumped Li'l Ralphie out on the road regarded him as just another burdensome cat, whatever fashioned him did not overlook him in such a way, instead, gifting him with distinctive markings and beauty that distinguishes him from the rest of his kind. Even though hundreds of thousands of cats are born each year, Mother Nature, masterminding the designs of all kinds of critters, still put her heart and soul into Ralphie's design--making him one handsome being with all internal parts working and jiving in a way that makes him the living, walking sweetheart that he is.
If Mother Nature or this genetic force or whatever, could be so precise, so detailed, so intent and careful with one kitten's design, then who are we, as humans, to discard him as though he were worthless? No human could ever fill Mother Nature's moccasins, yet some people are out there dumping her precious, carefully-fashioned gifts as though they had no more value than a clod of dirt.
In this time of gift-giving and love among family and friends, I hope that people will be able to think beyond their new iPhones and stuff and feasting and take an appreciative look at the gifts that may be already lying under the Christmas tree or sitting right at their feet or out in the barn or the field or woods: living gifts--a deliberately fashioned cat, pig, dog, bird, horse, hamster or woodland creature-- created, mastered and designed by a force that values and puts much effort into each being as though it were the only one of its kind.
Merry Christmas to all and well-being and content to all animals.