I often wonder what our animal friends make of all this holiday fuss.
Do they think we've completely lost our minds, bringing trees into houses, hanging shiny things all over it and then filling the house with lots of edible things, none of which they are allowed to go near?
Every cat I've ever had has loved sleeping under the Christmas tree. Fortunately, none of them has ever tried to climb it, and the decorations that have gotten knocked off have all been accidents, caused by them brushing up against the baubles. I realize I've been lucky in that regard as I hear a lot about trees crashing in the night.
The first cat I had -- as an adult -- was Andy, an 18-pound Siamese who was known to beat up larger dogs and who once brought home a child's sock. I chose to ignore the possibilities, but not long after that, Andy became an indoor-only cat.
When the tree would go up, Andy would immediately plop himself beneath it, luxuriating on the "velvet" tree skirt. By the time January rolled in and it was time to store Christmas away for another 11 months, the skirt would be practically white with his fur, and disgusting in places where he had coughed up a hairball.
The first Christmas I spent with Andy is also the last year I used icicles on the tree and ribbons on the packages. He hated those icicles. He'd get within a foot of the tree and they would reach out for him, drawn by the static electricity of his fur. Within a week, the bottom third of the tree wouldn't have a single bit of tinsel on it, but the rest of the house would be covered.
I also learned that cats can chew on the tinsel, which could result in an emergency trip to the vet. I never really cared for the stuff anyway, so I was happy to drop that family tradition.
I wasn't as happy about the bows. I used to spend hours wrapping presents and applying ribbons. Andy thought that was just dandy. That first year, there wasn't a package beneath the tree that didn't have shredded ribbons and bows with teeth marks in them.
My other two cats, Matt and Sarah, enjoyed their places beneath the tree, too, but they didn't like sharing the space with the presents. I'd come downstairs to find packages shoved out from under the tree. When the accumulated volume of Christmas cheer filled the entire area, they grudgingly slept on top of them.
We all grew accustomed to receiving flattened packages covered in cat hair.
The dogs were more interested in the gifts than the tree. My mom's dog, Dixie, had a good nose and would sniff out her gifts, unwrapping more than one in her search for a chew toy.
My sister's dog, Lena, seemed to know there were gifts for her, but she had better manners. Either that or she was too afraid of encountering a cat under the tree to mess with things.
Bailey, my Chihuahua, doesn't seem to have much interest in the tree or the decorations. To him, the tree is just something blocking his view of the frontyard and his ceaseless watch for his mortal enemy, the black cat next door.
Bailey may also associate the Christmas tree with a rather negative experience. Last year, he received socks and a hooded sweater, neither of which he cared for.
Bailey and I hope that all of you and your animal friends have a wonderful day spent among the people and pets who make you happy. And that if you get socks and a hooded sweater, you actually want them.