For Cats Who Love Christmas

Laugh at the antlers if you must, but laugh at your peril. That business-like look in the eyes of my beautiful calico is very real. Dixie Rose (short for Dixie-Rose-Center-of-the-Universe-and-Queen-of-all-She-Surveys) loves Christmas, and she intends to be ready when it arrives. I don’t advise standing in her way.

Dixie arrived on my doorstep fourteen years ago: an unloved, four-month-old stray who became my first pet. I did receive a small, painted turtle as a child, but it met an unfortunate end. A well-meant birthday puppy lasted only a few hours.  Tiny but exceedingly enthusiastic, the black Cocker Spaniel terrified me, and soon was sent packing by disconsolate adults.

Later, I raised a fox squirrel, and laughed my way through four years with a prairie dog, but my relationship to Dixie Rose is of a different order entirely. I believe her to be the most beautiful creature on four paws. Whether she’s the most spoiled remains up for debate, but she’s working at it — diligently.

On our first Christmas together, it became obvious that old routines would have to change. Tree trimming and gift wrapping were more than she could bear: a swath of shredded ribbon, broken ornaments, and pulled-down swags marked her passage through the house.

After she tipped the tree a second time and then a third, I surrendered.  We celebrated with a bare tree that had been weighted at its base with several feet of galvanized chain wrapped around the trunk. No candles burned. No poinsettias glowed. Presents piled up in the closet until time for humans to unwrap them, and all things sparkly were banned due to my furry darling’s obsessive appetite for tinsel, glitter, and gold.

As Christmas Day approached, Dixie and I began to disagree more sharply on the nature of true celebration. Things weren’t always good that year, and the phrase “This hurts me more than it does you” became as common as “Merry Christmas.” Things were so bad I began to amuse myself by creating the first of what I’d later call Cat Carols. You know the tune, and can add the “Fa-la-las” as needed.

Wreck the Halls

Wreck the halls all decked with holly,
Fa-la-la-la-la, la la-la-la.
Sheer destruction is so jolly,
Fa-la…
Tip the tree with all its treasures,
Fa-la…
Shred the presents for good measure!
Fa-la…
Fast away the fur-ball passes,
Fa-la…
To wreak havoc on the masses,
Fa-la…
Swinging through the punch and cookies,
Fa-la…
Snarling at the reindeer rookies,
Fa-la…

It was the start of something wonderfully fun. When I included the lyrics in Dixie’s Christmas card to her vet, he suggested she keep writing. So, she did.

Stalking in a Winter Wonderland

Collars ring, are you listening?
In the lane, eyes are glistening…
The moon is so bright, we’re happy tonight,
Stalking in a winter wonderland.
Gone away are the bluebirds,
Here to stay are the new birds.
They sing their sweet songs as we skulk along,
Stalking in a winter wonderland.
In the meadow we can build a snow mouse,
And pretend that he is fat and brown.
He’ll say “Are you hungry?” We’ll say, “No, mouse”,
“but we’ll have you for dinner on the town.”
Later on, we’ll retire
For a snooze by the fire,
And dream of the prey we’ll catch the next day,
Stalking in a winter wonderland.

Of course, not everyone loves the kitty-cats, and there’s a song for them, too. While I don’t advocate shooting cats (or dogs or people for that matter), I certainly understand how pure frustration might lead to a Christmas song like this:

Jingle Bells, Shotgun Shells

Jingle bells, shotgun shells, there’s that danged old cat!
Get my gun, let’s have some fun, I know just where he’s at!
Jingle bells, oh, Hell’s bells, now he’s on the run!
If I find my glasses, that cat’s hunting days are done.
A day or two ago, I thought I’d feed the birds,
I grabbed a bag of seed, a second and a third.
But halfway ‘cross the yard, I saw the bushes shake,
It was my neighbor’s scroungy cat, a big orange tom named Jake.
Oh, jingle bells, shotgun shells, (repeat chorus)…..
I love to feed the birds, it makes me feel so glad.
But Jake, that danged old cat, he makes me so darned mad!
He’s not content to eat a lizard or a mouse,
He wants to eat my pretty birds: that cat’s a stinking louse!
Oh, jingle bells, shotgun shells (repeat chorus)

Finally, there is this cautionary tale. Like children, cats (and probably dogs) need to be reminded that the magical night is not far off.

Santa Cat is Coming to Town

Oh, you’d better not hiss, you’d better not bite,
You’d better not tempt the dog to a fight;
Santa Cat is coming to town!
He’s making a list, checking it twice,
Gonna find out who chased all those mice,
Santa Cat is coming to town!
He knows when you’ve been scratching,
He knows who you’ve outfoxed,
He knows if you’ve been in a snit
And refused your litter box!
With potted cat grass and catnip-filled balls,
Snuggly warm beds and mice from the malls,
Santa Cat is coming to town.

Eventually Dixie’s online friends joined the fun, sending along their own contribution to the songfest.  Housecats themselves, Mister Man and Miss Moo know how to have a good time despite not being allowed to stalk in the Great Outdoors.

Hark! The Housebound Felines Sing

Hark! the housebound felines sing,
Glory to the milk-jug ring!
Mice on earth and squirrels reviled
Even indoors we are wild!
Warily our tails do twitch
As we down the halls do rip,
With triumphant meows proclaim,
Cats do have superior brains!
Hark, the housebound felines sing,
Glory to the milk jug ring!

Dixie and I haven’t begun working seriously on this year’s song, but phrases are bubbling away in our lyrical stewpot and “O, Christmas Bush” seems a likely candidate. It’s pure silliness of course, just another bit of holiday excess. On the other hand, excess isn’t necessarily bad, and even silly excess can become a path to truth.

Looking at Dixie, singing her little songs to her, I can’t help remembering another carol.  “Joy to World, the Lord is come. Let earth receive her king.” Remarkably, we don’t sing, “Joy to human beings. joy to those who walk upright, drive cars, open too many credit card accounts, and are nasty to their neighbors.” We don’t sing, “Joy to the church-goers, the faithful, the few.”

The joy we sing is meant for the whole world: for stars and dirt, mountains and seas, trees, rocks, valleys and hills, and every creature who inhabits them all.

While human hearts prepare, heaven and nature are singing out this truth: the gifts of the season are meant for all. The coming of truth and grace is meant for the world as a whole. We who inhabit that world, who trace a path upon its soil and gaze upon its stars are called to sing its praises, too, including it in our celebrations.

Whether you celebrate Christmas or whether you don’t, whether you take the promises of the season seriously or simply enjoy the traditions and the festivity, accept these bits of silliness as a gift from Dixie Rose. Feel free to laugh at them, sing them to yourself, or pass them on to friends. Believe me – an entire room filled with pet-lovers singing these songs can be hilarious, and they’ve been known to bring a smile even to the face of the most anti-feline Scrooge.

As for Dixie, she continues on her best behavior. She’s learned she can avoid kitty-jail by avoiding kitty-misbehavior, and we trim our tree in peace. I hang ornaments even on the lowest branches with confidence, and display cookies and gifts without fear.

While I prepare our celebration, she spends quiet afternoons sleeping in the low, slanting light. I like to imagine visions of catnip-plums dancing in her head as she waits in perfect peace and joy for whatever gifts come next.

In this season of Advent, this season of waiting and anticipation, may we all be blessed with such peace and joy.

Something of a tradition at The Task at Hand, this post last was published in 2012. If you’re inclined to share the post or the songs with someone, please do. Songs of the season are meant to be shared.
Special greetings go to Max, Lizzie Cosette, Gus, RC, Jasper, Sammy, T-Bob, Emmaline, Wimsey,  George, and the White, Black and Gray trio (you know who you are.) Like Gypsy, and Blue, Bill and Cherie’s Dixie Belle is with us only in memory this year, but we’ve been joined by Charlie, and by seven year old Kitty, who’s learning to live with a new pal named Muffin up on the Tallgrass Prairie.  Merry Christmas to them all!
Comments are welcome. To leave a comment or respond, please click below.

100 thoughts on “For Cats Who Love Christmas

  1. Sounds like more than the cat has been sampling the catnip, Linda. :)

    I never made up Christmas carols for our cat but she had a fine pair of antlers and always managed to make it into our Christmas letters. Effie loved catnip, and was a fine retriever, bringing wadded up Christmas paper back to anyone who would throw it for her. –Curt

    1. Curt, I happen to have an aunt named Effie. We always used to laugh at the fact that neither of us knew anyone else with that name. Well, no longer. The fact that the second Effie I’ve come across is your cata — well, that’s somehow appropriate.

      Dixie Rose isn’t about to retrieve anything, for anyone, but she’ll shred paper for hours. I have to watch her, since she isn’t discriminating. Tissue paper, The New Yorker, road maps — it’s all the same to her. When the clerk at the neighborhood Walgreens said, “You sure do buy a lot of tissue paper,” I just smiled.

      1. Effie is an old fashioned name. Actually it was FE for iron. I think the kids were taking Chemistry at the time and the cat had an iron color. I’ve always spelled the name out, however.

        We have friends who had a cat that had discovered the joy of unravelling toilet paper. He could destroy a roll in a matter of minutes. :) –Curt

    1. It’s that “more” that can be so interesting, aggravating, and perplexing, Gallivanta. T.S. Eliot got it right when he used the word “inscrutable” to describe our dear creatures. Dogs are wonderful, but cats are… well, cats!

        1. Believe it not, Gallivanta, I didn’t know the story. Many thanks for bring it here.. The reading is wonderful, though the YouTube was incomplete. Not to worry — I found the rest of the tale here, and enjoyed it all over again.

          But even better — you’ve reminded me of an essay I’d long forgotten: Loren Eiseley’s The Talking Cat. It’s from his book, “All the Strange Hours”. I read it for the first time years ago, and wept all the way through.. It’s not a sad story at all — just magical, and real, and precious. I just re-read it, and had a few more tears. If you don’t know it, or even if you do, it’s the most wonderful Christmas story ever. Maybe I’ll read it to Dixie, later.

          1. Yes, I realized as soon as I sent the link that it wasn’t complete but I trusted you would find the full version and you did. :) The Talking Cat is new to me but, indeed, a lovely Christmas story. It reminded me that every time my sister comes to visit me we always have a procession of cats who come to visit. They appear from nowhere, wander up to the window, they talk to my sister and then they move on. It is the strangest thing. My sister of course loves cats. It’s as if the neighbourhood cat watch sends out a vibe that my sister is in town. Go say hello, it says. After my sister leaves I do not see these cats again.

  2. Let every heart say “Amen”. As always, this post is absolutely beautiful. And funny… I think I’ll print it out and share with all of my friends. My neighbor has a bunny… I wonder what song he might sing?

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it, Melissa. And do feel free to share. A certain group of crazies I know printed out the lyrics and went caroling at the local animal shelter at one of their adoption days. Hearing my words sung in that context didn’t have the cachet of the NY Times best seller list, of course, but it warmed my own heart.

      It looks like WOL already has a suggestion for your neighbor’s bunny and their celebration. It looks like a good jumping off point.

  3. Oh, Linda! Your post made me laugh so hard at Dixie Rose and your clever song writing, and then bring tears to my eyes at the real message behind the laughter. May we all be blessed with the spirit of Christmas and its true meaning of peace, love, and light.

    So happy to be back in the fold.

      1. Funny — my vet calls Dixie a tortoise shell. Apparently a true calico has discrete color patches, and ours are more mixed. Your Sassy is beautiful. And you’re right about the fur. Dixie’s is more rabbit-like, too.

    1. You’re one of the reasons I re-posted this piece, Susan. After two years, there are people who haven’t read it and just like any good story, any good song, once rarely is enough.

      After all, I pull out my DVD of “A Christmas Story” every year and laugh myself silly at it. When I’m lucky, I watch it with people from the same time and place, people who recognize that things really were “just like that”!

      A blessed season to you!

      1. Thank you! It made my morning. We always have “A Christmas Story” running in the background all Christmas Eve, and I say all the lines along with the characters. My favorite Christmas movie among many.

        A blessed holiday season to you as well!

  4. Oh gone are the days…thank goodness…when T-Bob climbed the tree. But the memories are still clear. It seems T-Bob has grown from kitty to old cat content to watch us string lights, hang ornaments and the like. Still, I put the bell ornaments on the lowest branches and smile when I hear a jingle.

    These are delightfully and perfectly written feline carols. I hummed and sang along with all the words. Kudos to you and all your friends for making things merry. Merry Christmas to you, Linda and Dixie Rose.

    1. Oh, dear. Georgette, I forgot T-Bob! He’s on the kitty list now, so I won’t forget him next time. It’s rather an amazement to realize that two years have passed since I last posted this. I hope Dixie and T-Bob still are with us the next time around. Dixie’s nearly fifteen now, and really slowing down, but she’s healthy and, as far as I can tell, pretty happy.

      I thought of you yesterday when I came across an ad for chocolate wooden shoes from Holland. Those always were a part of my stocking, and bring warm memories. I know your holidays will be equally warm. You’re making wonderful memories for your grandchildren, just as our parents and grandparents did for us.

    1. Thanks, Bill. I couldn’t leave out your Dixie. It’s a pretty big gap once they’re gone, and just as with people, it can be especially poignant at holiday time.

      Enjoy the season. Don’t forget to spend a little time just watching the onions. Fallow is good!

  5. Is that my Jasper in the Special Greetings? He would enjoy a holiday greeting from another cat :^)

    Cats and Christmas decor don’t always mix well and you have that well documented. I am always relieved when I hear how people change and rearrange to make things work out for the season.

    Dixie has such a sweet and engaging stare. We send our Merry Greetings and Wishes to you two!

    1. Martha, that is your Jasper — of course! Give him Dixie’s regards, and sing him a song or two, if you’re so inclined.

      One of the biggest changes I had to make was eliminating poinsettias and other such plants. The good news is that, from a few feet away, a fake poinsettia can look as good as the real thing. Even better, my little furball doesn’t seem to have any taste for Christmas cactus, so they’re happily blooming and adding some natural color.

      You tickled me with “sweet and engaging stare.” Yes, it is — at least in the photos I chose to show here. I have photos of other stares that are just as engaging, but not nearly so sweet.

    1. You’re welcome, Jim. A little good humor is good for the soul — at least, that’s what we think around here. I do hope your brother and his partner enjoy them. Snark-free, they are, and hence perfect for holiday consumption.

  6. We’ve not had any Christmas carols per se, though the white one can be heard caroling away at odd hours of practically any day. Being half Siamese (the wrong half) and half Godknows, he has an opinion about everything, and is not shy about expressing it. We do get hymns now and then, “Oh, thou font of every kibble,” or “I knead thee every hour.” And we get The Mighty Hunter Song (which can only be sung while parading about with “vanquished prey” in ones mouth). We also get a lot of kvetching and whinging. I would say it’s because he’s old (15) and grumpy, but he whinged when he was a kitten, too.

    We rarely hear from the grey one unless she’s been accidentally shut in the closet or the bathroom and found again. Then we get some breathless and excited descriptions of how terrible it was to be lost and how happy she is that she’s been found again.

    The black one, who is a little thug, chortles in his glee now and again, but doesn’t sing that I’ve heard. (I really must get a video of him going out the cat flap in the bedroom door. It’s too funny!) He is a tattle tale, though, and taps me on the arm to tell me of real and imagined wrongs, and when the LitterMaid is stuck (again).

    I have given them all names, but they ignore them. Cats don’t need names. They know who they are.

    1. You and T.S. Eliot. He put it a little more famously, but the two of you are making the same point. From “The Naming of Cats,” which I know you’re familiar wtih:

      “But above and beyond there’s still one name left over,
      And that is the name that you never will guess;
      The name that no human research can discover —
      But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.
      When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
      The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
      His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
      Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
      His ineffable effable
      Effanineffable
      Deep and inscrutable singular Name.”

      The best part of the link I chose is that it has a recording of Eliot reading the poem. And, it added the tidbit that “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” was illustrated by Edward Gorey the year after publication. I didn’t know that.

      I love your descriptions of the trio. They truly are individuals, aren’t they? Dixie’s gotten more vocal generally over the past year or two. In fact, she’s become a combination of vocal and demanding. She doesn’t talk to herself. She has messages for me — very clear messages, like, “I don’t care that it’s 4 a.m. It’s time for you to get up.” It’s no wonder we all love Simon’s Cat as we do.

      1. Actually, I was thinking of the cat in Neil Gaiman’s “Coraline”,

        ““What’s your name,’ Coraline asked the cat. ‘Look, I’m Coraline. Okay?’
        ‘Cats don’t have names,’ it said.
        ‘No?’ said Coraline.
        ‘No,’ said the cat. ‘Now you people have names. That’s because you don’t know who you are. We know who we are, so we don’t need names.”

        It took my cats as much as several years to learn how to talk. The black one knows how, he just doesn’t have much to say. Of course, the white one is a born chatterbox through his mother, who was a long-haired Siamese. And of course, we can segue into the duet from Lady and the Tramp that the inimitable Peggy Lee sang with herself . .

        1. I ust watched the video – delightful. And, isn’t that just the way it goes? There’s a good bit of wisdom in that snipped from Coraline, too. Unlike the Lady and the Tramp, that was entirely new to me., but it’s a perfect addition here. Thanks!

    1. Welcome, Knipsa! Thank you for the kind words, and for taking the time to comment. You’re welcome any time.

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the songs. We certainly do intend to keep singing, even when Christmas is over.

      Frohe Weihnachten!

  7. Goodness, you have my respect for wading through those first Christmases with Dixie the Terrible! And perhaps when you’d reached a truce, you did sing Joy to The World.

    Last night, some friends and I watched The Nativity again and wondered anew at the words the screenwriters gave to Mary when the shepherds approached and tentatively reached for the baby Jesus, “He is for all.”

    1. Nikkipolani, I should have known what was coming after she started trying to climb the ficus tree in the living room at six months. That was easily enough solved — outdoors it went — but she went through a phase when anything vertical was fair game. I still have a few bits of literature produced during that time. For example:

      Here comes little Dixie Rose
      sniffing at your people toes.
      If she could, she’d shred your clothes
      climbing up to bite your nose.

      It was a memorable time.

      I was interested in your comment about the screenwriters’ choice of Mary’s line. I finished my Christmas post last night (how that happened, I’m not sure). It seems the screenwriters and I were drawing from the same well — but of course, that’s as it should be.

  8. As you might know, I’m not a cat-person, but Dixie Rose — with all her shenanigans and spunk — could change that! She sounds like a kitty who could give Dallas a run for his money!

    Love your Christmas ditties, Linda. What fun, making up silly verses with cat themes!

    Dallas generally behaves at this time of year. I don’t imagine he knows how special Christmas is, but he’s never yanked ornaments off the tree, or ripped into presents nestled there, or gnawed through twinkling lights or electrical cords. Traditions like these probably baffle him a bit!

    1. I spent a few minutes thinking about a possible meeting between Dallas and Dixie, and couldn’t figure out which would come out on the short end of the deal. Honestly, Debbie, I think Dixie would end up under the bed. That’s her refuge of choice when a new form of danger shows up: like a petsitter.

      From what I gather, dogs are better about such things than cats. I’m sure it’s partly because cats are climbers and scratchers, and everything from trees to tissue paper is bound to attract them.

      If you’ve never seen a Simon’s cat video, you might enjoy this one. The man knows cats!

  9. Something as wonderfully silly as this just has to have a second airing.
    I have decorated the tree today, after having it up, naked, for a few days, hoping Max would ignore it. So far, so good! Last year I didn’t have a tree, he was still a kitten – climbing curtains, bookcases, trees – but now he is almost two, he has calmed down, fingers crossed.

    I am sure Blue will be looking down from ‘over the rainbow’ and sending Dixie Rose, and you, good wishes for “The twelve days of Christmas” :-)

    1. Sandi, I’m trying to remember which it was — Blue, or Max — who starred in that wonderful photo you took of the leap over the kitchen counter. Remember that? I’ve never seen a cat fly so gracefully.

      I thought Dixie had become blasé about the season, but last night was our boat parade, and several boats on the dock across from me decorated. As they began pulling out of their slips to join the procession, lighted to the gills, she jumped up on the window sill and watched intently, as though she were enjoying it.

      I hope you and your Max have such beauties to share this season!

    1. I’m not sure I’d call it poetry, Andy, but they are pretty good parodies. I certainly prefer singing these songs to listening to dogs and cats barking and meowing along to “Jingle Bells.”

      Dixie is a grand cat, but she’s getting old. It’s hard to say how many more Christmases we’ll have together, but we’ll enjoy the ones we have.

      By the way — the commenter just above (Sandi) is from Milton Keynes. You can see her photos here.

    1. Well, let’s see. He didn’t have quite the temper that the squirrel did, but you had to watch him, because he loved to burrow into places — like the inside of the sofa. His favorite food was raw sweet potato, but he only got that for dessert. He liked to go sailing. I never could figure that out. I thought the motion would bother him, but it didn’t seem to.

      When he was younger, he liked everyone, but in his latter years, he refused to have anything to do with me, so that was that. Here’s one of the pics I have of him.

      He was a sweetie, but prairie dogs are communal animals and I never would adopt one again. He came along by circumstance rather than choice, and things worked out. But I’d far rather support groups who help maintain them in their natural habitat, and their colonies. As it was, his humans were his colony, and that was rather a remarkable experience.

      Between the two, I preferred the squirrel, except for the fact that I always suspected the squirrel was smarter than I am.

      1. What a beautiful animal! I’ve always been intrigued by the prairie dogs for some reason. Just the way they build such cool underground homes, and seem so intelligent as they are standing on guard looking for danger. well, looks like it’s time to watch an old rerun of Petty Coat Junction. talk to you soon! DM

    1. Isn’t she sweet, Lily Lau? She happens to be curled up on a chair next to me right now, sound asleep. She’s getting old, so she sleeps a lot, but she still likes to be near her people.

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting. When Dixie wakes, I’ll tell her she has a new fan.

      Linda

    1. Thank you, Sheryl. Sometimes, the simple things are the most fun — as you’ve been showing us through Helena’s life. And I almost have the holiday must-dos done, so I can turn my attention to my contribution to the bake-off.

  10. Most wonderful combination – your words and Dixie Rose’s photos!
    I’ve not tempted my young miss with tree and decorations, but Fred sat on my lap while we watched Simon’s cat deal with the tree and most enjoyed it! Frank has such a great voice, I am tempted to ask him to sing some of your lyrics – perhaps Deck the Halls…….. which incidently was the final number at a concert I attended yesterday – with the audience providing the bell accompaniament.
    Best wishes to you Linda, and dear Dixie Rose (She Who Must Be Obeyed!)

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed it, eremophila — and Fred, too! The joys of outsmarting and outlasting humans belongs as much to the canine as the feline.

      There’s nothing more fun than a little bell-ringing. Last week I was at a concert where the symphony provided a version of “Sleigh Ride” that was rich in bells. Such a lovely reminder of my northern childhood, where the turn from autumn to winter meant changing from hay rides to sleigh rides.

      I hope your holidays continue to be festive and bright!

  11. It’s amazing how much love you can accumulate and distribute amongst pets, plants, blogging, varnish, Texas, rivers, roads, monuments, trees, literature and a long list of other interesting themes.

    In each one of these genres you shine. Thank you so much for making our lives happy during all these years.

    Blessings,

    Omar.-

    1. It’s a big, wide world, Omar, with lots to photograph and write about — as you know. I do enjoy poking around and writing about what I find, and I’m glad you enjoy the results, too.

      When I was looking through the Simon’s cat videos, I found this one, which I hadn’t seen. What’s better than combining a cat and a photographer? I htink this will make you laugh, too. Contrary to what some people seem to think, there’s nothing wrong with laughter, or with having fun.

      Linda

  12. I will never tire of seeing that opening image, and your lyrics are much more fun than the ones we’ve heard all of our lives! It would be wonderful to watch you sing them in person, but your from-the-heart smile burns a pretty good image! z

    1. Do people go Christmas caroling there, Z? Or do they do something similar?

      I’ve been thinking about what a big part caroling played in our lives. Groups would get together spontaneously and go out into the neighborhoods, just knocking on doors and singing for the pure pleasure of surprising people. It was such fun. If it was really cold, with plenty of fresh snow, it was even better, especially if there was hot chocolate at the end.

      I did get curious about your part of the world, and discovered once again that, no matter what the differences, there are just as many similarities.

      Linda

      1. In my 14 years in Latin America, I’ve always been touched by the simplicity of the Christmas tradition in the rural areas. The focus is on the story of Christmas and not on materialism or decking the palm thatch. This year I’ve noted more Christmas lights than usual.

        On Christmas Eve the extra faithful will sing a capela in front of the Church, until the mass is finished around midnight. Baby Jesus’s birth is announced at midnight, and people stop, greet each other, then resume eating/singing, fellowship.

        This year I will be at El Matal on Christmas Eve. Depending on the wave height and wind, it could be a snitty sunset on the 24th. If so, the following morning at dawn will be equally delicate. A post is in queue for tomorrow noonish with lots of images taken mid week.

        I was running out of time so basically uploaded the images and made it home just before dark.

        Happy holidays, dear amiga.

        1. Merry Christmas to you, Z. If you’re lucky, Santa will bring you a bionic gerbil or two, to keep things running. I do remember now you telling us about some of those traditions last year. The simplicity is deeply appealing, and I do hope that both faith and good fortune bring a better year for those who’ve had to battle so hard this year against the waves — and other circumstances.

          It’s funny — peculiar, not amusing — that there are so many fewer lights here this year. I have a feeling the darkness of the neighborhoods might be signs of darkening spirits. Ah, well. I’ll keep lighting my little candle!

          1. i’v read before that the presence or absence of flowers in a community point back to the mental health of the society..that could easily apply to the lights – i think you made the right diagnosis.

            so far your kingfisher post isn’t loading.. grrrrrrrrrrrrrr. i’m about to go to sleep, and it should load first thing in the morning.

            those gerbils need a rest, and i[ll give them extra coffee AND guayusa tea – they’l be ready to launch a space comet chaser! z

    1. She does have the most beautiful eyes, Rosemary. She has quite a personality, too, but she’s a truly good cat: no jumping up on forbidden things, no eating of human food, no scratching. She understands “No!” but I haven’t had to use that in a long, long time.

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. ‘Tis the season for us all!

  13. What a beauty! And I loooove her name (her complete one, that is). It’s only appropriate for such felines (or, all). :)

    Thanks for the giggle — I have three former strays here, and Christmas is always…interesting!

    1. You’ve got a ready-made choir, FeyGirl. Tell them you’ve got some new material for the year, and they need to start rehearsing.

      i’ve often thought that, after Dixie isn’t with me any more, I might foster strays while they’re waiting for adoption. I’m not sure I’d want to take on another cat, who surely would outlive me (facts are facts!) but there are so many who need a loving home.

      Did you get yours at the same time, or at different times? Was their adjustment to one another easy?

  14. Dixie Rose is a magnificent Belle; she’s absolutely gorgeous. And now that she’s well-behaved and no longer a holy terror among the Christmas lights she will never need to see the inside of kitty jail again.

    I love her poems, not only a beauty but clever too and musical; who would have thought there could be such a paragon.

    What is her Christmas present and will she be allowed to unwrap it herself?

    I wish the two of you and whomever else you are spending the feast with a wonderful time, cosy dreams by the fire and purrings galore.

    1. Actually, Friko, now that she’s well-behaved and doesn’t need to be incarcerated, Dixie finds her jail (a sheepskin-lined carrier) to be quite the cozy sleeping spot. Especially in the coldest months, if I can’t find her elsewhere, she’s usually curled up there, free to come and go as she pleases. Funny, really: the physical space is the same, but it’s coercion that makes it a jail. There’s a lesson in there somewhere.

      Santa Cat will come this year. I hear he’s bringing her a Klikety Klik box from Cape Town, with some beads inside to rattle enticingly. And there will be fresh catnip, and a half dozen of her favorite fur mice. She gets those only at Christmas, and they’re doled out one at a time. She bites off the tails and eats them, then carries the carcass to her water bowl, where she drowns it. You can take the cat out of the wild….

      May we all be so easily satisfied in this season, and so content!

  15. Dixie is indeed a gorgeous cat and her eyes are amazing, Linda. The two of you are another Lennon and McCartney. I had my own Dixie, a beagle and as sweet as could be, but I cannot share any stories of destruction and assertive behavior. I am not sure which of us had it better…but it sure sounds like you have a lot of fun and stories to tell.
    A very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and Dixie Rose……I had the hardest time not putting a Lee at the end of her name. :-)

    1. From what I know, Steve, beagles tend to be pretty placid and even tempered, at least until they’re out in the field. The funniest dog I ever knew was a beagle who lived across the street from my folks. His name was Happy, and he was a little confused. Every time they let him out, he’d run to the fire hydrant at the edge of my folks’ yard, and point. He had terrific form, but he wouldn’t stop. Most of the time, we’d go out, pick him up, and carry him home again. No one had the heart or the patience to keep waiting, just to see how long he’d stay and keep pointing.

      I think Dixie Rose is just as elegant, smart and sophisticated as Gypsy Rose, but the Lee makes me laugh for another reason — it’s my middle name. I always knew to stop whatever I was doing as a kid when I heard my mother say, “Linda Lee!” If I still was just Linda, I was safe.

      You’ve already gotten the white Christmas I’d love to have. I hope the season keeps right on delivering gifts to you!

        1. When I decided to become a boat varnisher, my first step was to design some business cards. That’s when I discovered what a terrific monogram LLL could become. Beyond that, I’ve always thought the entire name sounds vaguely Hawaiian.

          Strange, that I’ve never made the nautical association Or perhaps not. One of the first things I learned as a sailor was to stay away from lee shores at all costs. Boats and land don’t combine well, as I’ve seen from time to time. To paraphrase the old line about the purple cow, I’d rather see than be on one.

      1. Wow, so an “L” emblazoned on your varnishing smock means any one of your names. Yes, I am remembering Laverne too. I like the sound of Linda Lee…it’s too bad it meant a scolding but to me it sounds like a song title.
        Yes, we have had some snow…about an inch…which I guess sounds like a lot for Texas. Last year at this time we had received about a foot over three “storms”. I put the quotes because an actual storm might have the foot all by itself. I am not sure what to expect from the weather anymore.
        From the International Cartoon Festival from years back, here’s my favorite cat:

        1. Love the cartoons, especially the second one! It’s just a little creepy, but my inner ten-year-old loved it. As for the song — is it possible that you’re remembering the old song, “Aura Lee”? It was a Civil War song. I didn’t remember it when I first read your comment, but it finally popped to mind.

          As for Laverne — that’s just funny. My dad’s name was Lavern — though minus the “e” on the end.

  16. So happy someone mentioned Eliot and the name no one but the cat knows. Your Christmas rhymes are delightful tributes to a charming and unique Dixie girl. I always wanted a calico cat. I loved this so much,

    As you know, we are dog people, and Charlie would not take it kindly to have to share the spotlight with a kitty no matter how cute. We have had several singular cats through the years, each no less loved and pampered than his Lordship, the Prince of All Things, but since the rainy and dark evening years ago when LIza, the resident German Shepherd carried a soaked and muddy red kitten named Jack in from the yard, we have not had another. We gave him a warm bath in the kitchen sink which he hated , and promptly ran away the next day,. Poor Jack. No appreciation for having saved his life.

    1. Since getting Dixie, I’ve learned so much about calicos and tortoise-shells, Kayti. Not only are they beautifully colored, they seem to be sweeter than some breeds. This could be objective judgment, or pure prejudice, of course.

      Isn’t it funny how there truly are dog people and cat people? It doesn’t say a thing about the relative merits of dogs and cats, but does raise some interesting questions about how the inclination toward one species or the other develops. Of course, cats and dogs have their preferences, too, as your story of Jack clearly shows.

      For some pure pleasure, see this selection of photos and quotations showing sixteen writers and their cats.

  17. Dixie, you are so gorgeous and photogenic. Linda, it’s the witty and delightful prose and poetry that still has me laughing. Make me laugh for joy and I’m yours forever. Best wishes for a peaceful and joyous Christmas to you and yours.

    1. Mary, I’ve read this morning that you’re off for a bit of a break over the holidays. I’m glad to have sent you off with a laugh. It’s my firm convinction that anyone who can’t have fun with the traditions of Christmas — true fun, not snark or ridicule — hasn’t fully grasped what the season’s all about.

      Thank you for the lovely Christmas wishes. I hope your holiday is filled with equal amounts of peace, joy and laughter.

  18. Who would not fall in love with those eyes! Dixie is a beauty!
    Seven years ago now we lost our cat to old age. She was fully adult when she found us and we all enjoyed ten more years with Miss Kitty and I miss her so. So far no other cat has found and claimed us, but I’m still hoping.

    1. She is a beauty, and her eyes can be glorious. But woe unto you, if you get this look! She can make her displeasure known with those eyes, just as much as with her tail.

      There’s nothing quite like being found and accepted by a creature. I’m certain I’ve shared Loren Eiseley’s story about being found by a cat with you, but it’s such a wonderful one I always enjoy reading it at Christmas.

      Who knows? This might be the year!

  19. I read this lovely post and I have no idea if I commented or not. I’ve been rather stressed of late. But anyhow I loved this one and Dixie is indeed a rose. Very beautiful. But she does not look fetching as a reindeer. Loved the poetry. You are so smart.

    1. You made me laugh, Yvonne. You’re right — Dixie doesn’t look especially fetching, or happy, as a reindeer.

      The truth is that she’s never actually been dressed up with antlers. That first photo is my first and only experience with photoshopping something. As much of a trial as it is to dose my beloved with flea medication, there’s no way in the world I’d try to put antlers on her — or that they’d stay if I was successful.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the songs, and Dixie appreciates your compliments. I hope your stress has eased, and that the holidays are lovely for you.

  20. This is, was, and always will be my favorite holiday post! I’m just finished singing the tunes to Lizzie Cosette and plan to forward the link to a couple of cat loving friends! Thanks for the shout out of L.C. and the memory of Gypsy!

    (I tried the antlers on Lizzie but they didn’t stay on long enough for her close-up! Back to the collar with the bell!)

    1. We couldn’t forget Gypsy, now could we? Lizzie Cosette’s done a fine job of being a good Jeanie-kitty, but even she can’t replace Gypsy.

      Of course, those antlers are photoshopped. There’s not a chance in the world I’d survive trying to attach real ones to Dixie. Besides, I’m generally opposed to dressing up dogs and cats. I don’t get too exercised about it, but it’s not anything I’d do, myself.

      I did smile at those Las Vegas fancy cats, though!

  21. Linda,

    You have to love any post that has a Santa Cat in it.

    Kitty Jail!?! Ha! I’m so happy for you that you can hang your ornaments without fear of feline vandalism. Sounds like someone is maturing.

    Seriously now.
    “…heaven and nature are singing out this truth: the gifts of the season are meant for all.”
    Isn’t that beautiful and hopeful in a world so troubled. Just reading it fills me with hope.

    Happy Holidays to you and your mama, Dixie Rose.

    1. You want maturing, Bella? Try this — I had dinner guests last night, and an overnight guest, and she deigned to come out and socialize. Well, at least she didn’t hide under the bed. I consider this great progress. Or maybe she’s just slowing down with age (not that we’d know anything about that, right?)

      It’s nearly impossible to believe Christmas is in one week.Thank goodness it’s raining today and tomorrow, so I can finish up everything I’ve let slide!

  22. Great post, Linda – what a character is Dixie!I think you should apply for the job as the UK’s next poet laureate – we have a woman poet at present so let’s go international as well as female next time… A great Festive Season to you and your reading and commenting tribe. Happy to be one of them!

    1. She is a character, indeed. I think the two of you would get along famously, Anne. You share certain characterisitics, all positive: spunkiness, curiosity, and a strong sense of self.

      As for poet laureate — maybe parodist laureate would be more appropriate. Now that I think of it, that would be a competition I might consider entering. Besides: we live in a time when plenty of people seem to be parodies of themselves, so a parody competition would fit right into the zeitgeist.

      In any event, holiday wishes to you and yours, as well. I’m looking forward to your new projects in 2015. I have no doubt there will be some!

      Linda

      1. Many thanks for those compliments, Linda. I think you, me and Dixie may have them ALL in common! Festive wishes to you and yours too. And you are right about projects various for 2015….

  23. Thanks for sharing those lyrics. They’re all wonderful, and they will resonate with so many who cohabitate with pets — particularly cats.

    Marcello the Cat, who can find lots of opportunities for mischief, has adopted a respectful attitude toward the Christmas tree. The only thing he was interested in was the fish line we use near the top to guarantee it will remain upright, but even that preoccupation faded a few hours after I tied the line to the latches on a nearby window. He does seem to be slowly devouring the artificial tree in the foyer but, hey, it’s Christmas for him too.

    We met Marcello on the street in a small town in Maryland about four years ago, when he was a kitten, and he took leave of the store keeper who had been feeding him and his family and made the trip with us to New Jersey. Sometimes, when he lies on his shelf in the kitchen window and stares at us, he seems to reminding us that the arrangement was all OUR idea. And when he gets into trouble, we remind him how short a drive it is back to Maryland. Best wishes for the Season and forever after.

    1. I laughed at your mention of fishing line, Charles. When Dixie first came to live with me and I was trying to find a way to keep both cat and ficus tree in the house, there was a lot of fishing line used. Eventually, the tree learned to enjoy being out on the balcony.

      There has been one amusing incident since I posted this. I left a pile of ornaments in an easy chair one morning last week while I went to work. When I came home, they appeared to be untouched, save for the life-sized, bright red cardinal that was lying in the middle of the floor with one “feather” pulled out. Underneath that placid, housecat exterior, the heart of the jungle still beats.

      Your story of finding (or being found) by Marcello reminds me again of the wonderful tale by Loren Eiseley, called The Talking Cat. I suspect you might know it, but a re-read is as much a part of my Christmas traditions as Dickens and “A Christmas Story.”

      Many thanks for those good wishes. Christmas comes and Christmas goes, but “forever after” points to something far greater than our celebrations.

      Merry Christmas to you and yours — including Marcello.

  24. Dixie Rose sounds fantastic Linda, and I just love that last picture of her. Her little feet. So cute.

    I hope she is still with you, but that would make her 14. Our Ginger, a golden retriever, turned 15 today.

    I’m so happy you’ve had such fun with her over the years. A great cat is such great company. As is a great dog. Isn’t funny how each one can be the best one ever? Not just great pets but great and inspiring beings.

    Merry Christmas to you and Dixie Rose. Long may she reign.

    1. She is still with me, Tandi. We’re not sure exactly how old she is, but the vet thought she was about four months when I first brought her to him, so that would make her fifteen years old this month, too.
      So far, so good. She’s showing signs of “something” with one forepaw, but I think it’s just arthritis, as she only has trouble curling it under her in particular circumstances. She has no trouble walking, running, playing or jumping, so I’m not particularly worried about it.

      I suspect there still are some years of fun ahead. Today, I’m off to find some little fur mice for her. They’re special treats, for the sake of her intestinal tract. She loves to bite off their tails and eat them. Then, she takes the carcass to her water dish, and drowns it, holding it under water until it doesn’t float. What’s not to love about a cat whose instincts are so true?

      Merry Christmas to you and your whole crew — both two and four-footed!

    1. Miss Dixie loves to be admired, even from afar. She is a gorgeous cat, and has been so since the beginning. She’s also rather strange in some ways. She’s never clawed at furniture, and never has jumped up on tables, counters, and so on. Strangest of all, she refuses all human food: salmon, chicken, beef, turkey. She’ll have none of it. It’s beyond me.

      In any event, she, too, eats Hills. We’ve had some weight issues, but she’s down now from 12 pounds to 11, and is hoping to be at 10 by her next visit to the vet. I’ll ask him about the variety of food yours favored. Thanks for mentioning it. I’m glad it helped you enjoy your cat’s company for so many years.

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