the small gift of the holidays— or when a cousin comes to visit

“It’s an universal law–
intolerance is the first sign of an inadequate education.
An ill-educated person behaves with arrogant impatience,
whereas truly profound education breeds humility.”

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

(the cousins on the couch resting after the big meal / Julie Cook / 2017)

With the arrival of this almost two month long “holiday” season–that time
prior to Thanksgiving, of which usually is now ushered in just following Halloween,
with the big lead up to feasting and fellowshipping—
all the way to just after New Years, with its big exhale and let down…
many of us will experience the comings and goings of family and friends
those who come home to roost or those who are simply passing through.

Perhaps it’s us who are the ones doing the visiting…
making those often precarious trips here, there and yon

Either way…all sorts of folks are coming and going.

College students return home.
Schools shut down for the holidays
Work schedules become erratic.
Vacations begin…
Things just become topsy turvy… for what was once just a couple of weeks
to something now which has morphed into almost a 2 month celebration.

As a kid, do you remember having family come visit for the holidays…
or maybe you were the one traveling with family to do the visiting?

Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, cousins…. folks you wouldn’t have seen but
maybe once or twice a year,
but folks who your parents would read you the riot act over….
Strongly reminding you as to what it means to being kind, patient, polite
and not to grouse when having to share your toys, your room, your time,
your space–or to, in turn, tolerate having to be the recipient of perhaps
the not so most hospitable relative.

Older great aunts who would pinch your cheeks, kissed your face with bright red lipstick
as their extra strong perfume lingered cloyingly in your nostrils….
Or of that very loud and very obnoxious uncle who just made for awkward conversation…
yet would always slip you a dollar when no one was watching.

You could see your dad biting his tongue, your mom “playing nice” and you’d figure
if they could handle it, you could handle the little cousin who constantly
followed you around the house while your older cousin hid your favorite stuffed animal while having to sit by that aunt who insisted on your trying her best pickled ham casserole.

Family…friends…visiting—it’s what the holidays bring.

And therein lies the hidden gift of the holidays…

I thought about all of this today when I finally sat down,
exhausted from the days of lead up cooking and the few hours of cleaning
for what amounts to about a 20 minute meal…
when looking at our son and daughter-n-law’s dog, Alice the grand-dog, who had jumped
up on one the end of the couch, making herself at home,
home on the end that one of our cats, Peaches, stakes out as her own.

Disgusted, she left the room.

Percy however was not to be displaced.
He loves his mother and doesn’t want to share her with his usurper cousin….
so he jumped up and settled in right by my side—

17 pounds of cat verses 85 pounds of black lab….both wanting, needing, to be
by the one they look to for food, comfort and security.
Yet not particularly caring for one another.

And so they tolerate one another…they share their space, albeit it precariously.
They “play nice” to coexist in close proximity because they are “family”—
like it or not.

Alice is here until Monday.
Percy is here for the duration.
Yet they will make the best of this not so favorable situation of time
because this time of year, these holidays just bring out the better, the kinder,
the more generous in us all.

But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting
to get anything back.
Then your reward will be great,
and you will be children of the Most High,
because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Luke 6:35-36

14 comments on “the small gift of the holidays— or when a cousin comes to visit

  1. Lynda says:

    The photos are so lovely! What beautiful animals who are willing to be tolerant of each other in order to fulfill their own desires! Enjoy the rest of the time with family. I’ll be enjoying my family this weekend as it is my convocation and my children and a couple of grandchildren will be here. Chaos will reign and I’ll love it!! Blessings.

    • it’s the best kind of chaos Lynda—Brenton and Abby have gone down to Savannah today with her family so I’m “babysitting” Alice—-Percy is very jealous of Alice so I have two constant shadows following me all day long—it’s really comical considering their size difference. Peaches the other cat just either goes to the closest and hides out all day on a shelf or heads outside—but the other two vie for my attention and affection all day long—they’ll be back to town Monday….so it’ll be a loooooong weekend 🙂
      But it has made me really think about what all we do in the name of this “season” of year…which often brings out the better part of man and as we see, beast 🙂
      Enjoy your chaos!!! and thank you for my card yesterday—I’m just now playing catch up from yesterday!

  2. says:

    My youngest daughter is the animal lover in our family. When she was just a toddler, she’d try and train our Golden Retriever to jump over a log. She accidentally sat on her brother’s baby duck, which he’d rescued from the nearby stream. It was a nice funeral. When she turned five, she spray painted the same Golden a lovely shade of blue. Dad wasn’t happy. When she started her own family, there had to be pets in the picture. They now have two cats, two dogs and a rabbit. Whenever anyone needs a pet sitter, she always offers her home. Our dog, Gage, has been a visitor a few times. He stares down the cats, when they dare to show their faces. The large, aging mixed breed is tolerant of his shenanigans, but the little Yorkie is the first to put Gage in his place. The rabbit could care less. I like to refer to her home as Noah’s Ark, but she reminds me that she only has one rabbit. Sounds like you had a great Thanksgiving.

  3. Wally Fry says:

    Our Percy just slept lol. Every now and then he walked by and looked at people but that’s about it

  4. Tricia says:

    Ha ha, I loved this! The expressions on Alice and Percy are worth the price of admission alone. Well all have to put up with intolerable relatives at some point don’t we?

    Percy looks just like my niece’s ginger cat, Felix. Just full of personality he is!

    Isn’t Wally’s cat named Percy too?

    • Yes—I had no idea there were so many Percys out there—-when he came to us as a tiny kitten, he’d been thrown from a moving car and either was thrown at and hit a sign or just the pavement—his face was a mess—broken jaw, broken eye socket, teeth going every which way but the way they should…his mouth more hamburger meat then fur and whiskers….as one whole side of his face was skinned.
      He showed up at our door and was on his last leg. He was tiny, just a few weeks old.
      It was late so I just put him in a box for the night with some water and a little canned food from our other cat as I didn’t know if he’d be able to eat.
      I fully expected him not to last the night. Yet the next morning there he sat, looking rather expectant.
      So I took him to the vet.
      She had her doubts as to his survival but gave him a couple of shots, some powerful antibiotics, some liquid I was to apply to his gums…she told me to wash him real good and use a fine tooth brush to remove the maggots, etc….
      and we’d see over the next week how he would fare.
      I named him Perseverance, Percy for short.
      Long story short….he not only survived but has thrived.
      The tiny broken and bloody mass is now a happy 17 pound joy. He’s had to have 3 surgeries on his mouth—mainly dealing with teeth—which he doesn’t have many….as most were broken or have had to be pulled do to coming in sideways….
      but he healed beautifully and has no outward scars other than a crooked jaw without most teeth—-
      I look at the pictures of then as compared to now and I am amazed.
      And yes, his personality is such that he isn’t like any cat I’ve ever had—there is a true little soul in there…..

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