Signs of the season
Despite my apparent crankiness in recent blog posts, and notwithstanding a bunch of other stuff that’s going on in my world but is beyond the scope of this blog, I really, really am trying to be holly-jolly this season. But if I hear one more ludicrously over-rendered version of Silent Night, heaved up by some blinged-out, excessively self-important young "diva" who isn't qualified to even whisper Aretha Franklin's name, I am going to commit an act of violence.Silent Night is a simple, lovely tune. It’s okay to occasionally perk up the beat a bit (a la Angie Aparo) so it won’t sound so much like a boring hymn droned out by a bunch of tight-ass church folks, but it does not need to be over-sung. I am not only deeply unimpressed but profoundly annoyed by all of those twittery, quivery, utterly unnecessary notes that the "divas" seem compelled to produce for the same reason a dog licks his naughty bits – simply because they can.
And while you’re at it, divas, stop over-singing The Star-Spangled Banner and Amazing Grace.
Okay, now I shall try to be a little more positive. It is, after all, a holy season. And in spite of my on-again off-again cynicism about the season, I do have my sentimental moments. For instance, I always feel a little tug at my fourth chakra when I visit a friend’s home and behold the Christmas tree, all decked out with bright shiny objects and surrounded by a huge stack of presents that will be torn open on Christmas morning and forgotten before the New Year. It’s not the presents I envy. I only wish, for a moment, that The Rev and I could have a Christmas tree too.
But we can’t. This is not due to cynicism or any sort of religious conflicts. Cynics we may be, but we enjoy fine Pagan traditions, of which the Christmas tree is one, just as much as any agnostic-animist-Jewish-wannabe* / Buddhist** couple.
We cannot have a Christmas tree because of the cats.
Our cats – three of ’em, at last count – are strictly-indoor table tigers, as I strongly believe all suburban and urban felines should be. They do not, however, have free run of the house. We keep them out of the kitchen and dining areas, the bedrooms, and the offices where the computers are. They are allowed to accompany us into the bathroom, but due to their search-and-destroy lifestyle, they generally aren’t allowed to stay in there by themselves. (We even have a sign on the inside of our bathroom door for the benefit of guests who don’t know the house rules.)
The living room and the adjoining hallway are cat territory. This means that anyone who happens to be lounging around in the living room watching TV is fair game to be cat furniture. So it’s a good thing that all of our friends like cats. Unfortunately, the living room is also the only feasible place for a Christmas tree. Equally unfortunately, cats have hands, and they know how to use them.
Nevertheless I have tried to make the space somewhat festive. Though there’s no tree, I hung a large fake wreath on the wall above the entertainment center, mostly but not completely out of cat reach.
Occasionally a furry little hand will reach up and swipe at a fake flower, or grab a fake holly leaf that I will later find regurgitated on The Rev’s armchair, but so far the wreath itself has remained in place. The real problem, if you could call it a problem, has been with the fake garland I placed above the living room window. This is the only window in the room, and it’s one of those high-up windows. The Rev built a "kitty shelf" for the dear little demons so they can spend their days reclining on the shelf, gazing out at the wide world. (Wicked Rev also recently placed some bird and squirrel feeders in and around the trees just outside the window, but so far it hasn’t caused a frenzy. At least it generally hasn’t come to the teeth-chattering point.)
Not surprisingly, the cats have decided that the Christmas garland, by virtue of being above their window, belongs to them. Every morning I come out to find the garland has been torn down, with some of its leaves and flowers scattered carelessly around the room. I sort of like that look, but I realize that if the garland is on the floor, the dogs (four, at last count) can and will eat it when we all gather in the living room at night to watch one of our sentimental holiday movies such as Die Hard, Bad(der) Santa or The Long Kiss Goodnight. So I dutifully replace the garland, only to find my work undone the next morning. This morning I came out not only to find that the garland had been torn down and fragments of it scattered asunder, but that los tigres had also strewn yesterday’s newspaper all over the living room, turned on the Rev’s reading light,***, pulled some DVDs off the shelf, and knocked over a chair or two.
Hmmm. Maybe I’d better reconsider this "indoor cat" arrangement.
In spite of their destructive tendencies, I probably wouldn’t trade the little dears for the most glorious Christmas tree in the world, or, for that matter, for decent furniture, which we will never have. Life is a trade-off, and our pointy-eared angels bring The Rev and me far more joy than material things ever could. Most of the time, anyway.
And speaking of angels…well, it is the season and all that, and I found a little piece in First, The Magazine For Women on The Go, a mostly brainless guilty-pleasure supermarket women’s rag that I buy for bathroom reading, as the magazine’s tag line suggests. (It’s not all intellectual literary stuff with me. For someone who can be such an ineffable snob at times, I actually have some pretty lowbrow tastes.)
Anyway, First, like many other magazines – particularly at this miracle-ridden time of year – has gotten on kind of an angel kick. The piece that caught my eye in the latest issue is titled, "3 signs angels are watching over you." According to Trish Chastain-Sage (what a name, huh?), a "specialist in spiritual healing through angels," any of the following three signs "could be an indication of divine protection and oversight":
I couldn’t help noticing how Chastain-Sage likes to maintain, assert, and explain. It sounds to me as if some junior staff member was hitting the online thesaurus pretty hard. Apart from that, I also couldn’t help thinking of a few alternative explanations for these magical signs. I’m not trying to rain on anyone’s angel parade, but I think it is important to explore all possibilities.
- FEATHERS: "Finding a feather in an unexpected place is a clear signal that an angel is nearby," maintains Chastain-Sage. Angels want to subtly alert us to their presence, she says, and these feather "hints" are one way they go about it.
- SUDDEN POSITIVE FEELINGS: Experiencing a bright burst of optimism that seems to come out of nowhere, ad if your cares are being lifted away, means that in all likelihood you’ve just been embraced by a spiritual helper, Chastain-Sage asserts.
- RUSH OF WARMTH: "A sudden warm sensation is an indication that a heavenly guide is helping to heal something inside you, be it an emotional or a physical wound," explains Chastain-Sage. These types of feelings are typically experienced during the night or early morning, when we are most open to spiritual intervention.
Take that "rush of warmth." It could be angels, yes, but it could also be a sign from Goddess that the Estroven is no longer working, and it’s time to look into some bioidentical HRT. And those "sudden positive feelings?" Maybe that Vicodin-Soma cocktail you forgot you gulped a half hour ago to help you cope with the holidays has just kicked in. And as for those feathers in unexpected places, I'd say it is entirely possible that your own pointy-eared angel has just successfully hunted your favorite down pillow.
If I were you, I’d check the bird feeders too.
** The Rev
*** Since it was mainly ads that were scattered, I suspect they were hunting for last-minute Christmas bargains in the paper.