my mother was so wrong. once she took up with this cat she said no way could she any longer have a christmas tree, said this cat was different from all her others, said this one would never put up with a tree dangling lights and other pretties in her face. and so for all the years they lived together there were no christmas trees, and i complained about it, i admit it; i wanted christmas to look like christmas. i volunteered my house for the family christmas gathering and was always shushed, and she, being my mother, always won in our christmas tug of war.
after her death last year, i still believed her, and i didn't put up a tree, never mind that the cat had been with me since late spring. we were still figuring things out about each other, and like i said, i figured mother knew best, at least about the tree. but this year, another year down our together road, this cat & i know each other like old friends. she goes outside on her own and, unlike my mother, i let her stay out after dark, though i still call her and worry her home, and even if takes 30 or 40 minutes, she always comes from wherever she is. she has adjusted her feeding schedule to my workday, but she still wishes for someone here all the time; if i am late getting home, she sometimes wants not food, but just to be close to me. be still my heart.
so this year, a tree. with danglies and lights and everything. with christmas cards standing on shelves behind that tree. and of course, with a cat who has found a new place from which to watch the outside. from an empty-ish spot on a shelf behind the tree. she hasn't yet even knocked over a card. she snuggles against one and goes to sleep under blue lights. i hope my mother can see her.