A Merry Christmas for Pets

bunny christmas For Chihiro and Cole, seeing a rabbit this close is like Christmas

My extended family used to have a unique Christmas tradition. As we circled around the living room to exchange gifts, pet-owning relatives handed out special presents to other family members with pets: presents to dog and cat cousins from each other. That’s right: my aunt’s dog Chessie might receive a wrapped bone from my other aunt’s cat Patches.

I have no idea how the tradition started; it’s one I remember always being there as I grew up. When my family finally got a cat we were then included in the tradition, though to be honest we thought it a bit silly, especially the pretense of the wrapped gifts coming from the various animals and not their owners.

I suspect my Aunt Holly might be the root of the tradition: she absolutely loves presents. She doesn’t care if they’re not for her. If there’s an unwrapped gift in the house for a family member currently in attendance, she demands to see it opened.

But I digress; my point is in my family, pets have always been included in the holiday celebrations. My mom pampered my childhood cat Boots. She was always bringing home toys for him, usually of the catnip variety, which he loved. Christmas was no exception.

At Christmas she’d purchase a special stuffed stocking tailored for cats, the sort you might see at pet stores. She hung it up right next to our four family stockings, and on Christmas morning lavished Boots with the many toys and treats found within. The cat might not have been capable of comprehending the concept of the holidays, but with all his new toys that day was certainly Christmas for him.

I haven’t yet carried on either tradition. The extended family pet gift-giving dwindled as fewer members of the family owned pets (though maybe it still went on, with me just oblivious to the proceedings).

I don’t tend to decorate my own home as much since I’ve moved out on my own, because Christmas still means traveling across states to visit family. I haven’t had the time or inclination to do something special for Christmas morning because I’ve yet to spend one at my own house.

But maybe once things settle down, I’ll revive a bit of the pet gift-giving tradition. I try not to spoil my pets too much, and toy-buying for either of them is a challenge anyway because my dog tears apart and eats most toys, both canine and feline, that she can find. Still, it might be fun to have a special treat or two to give them one Christmas morning. I think I’ve inherited a bit of my aunt’s present excitement.

What about you? Do you do anything special for your pets for Christmas?

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