Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Virgin Mary and the Tabby Cat

Despite the paltry amount of Christmas decorating I have committed to do this year, I have to admit that I have not finished.   My excuse:  I forgot to get the ornament hangers out of the storage boxes and I do not want to go digging through for such a tiny thing nor do I want to buy at the store because they would be too large for the small tree and little ornaments, so I am now in the throes of making a few dozen of them.  It's no trouble, really, but I keep being distracted by other things (the cat wanting to go out onto the porch, the cat wanting to come in from the porch, my tea mug being empty, the tea kettle whistling.....)  Funny how easy it is to find an excuse not to do what we should do or even what we want to do.  I expect I'll get the job done in a day or so; no hurries, no worries.  It's kinda nice being freed from the monster of Christmas decoration this year.

However, I realized almost immediately that I had made a serious error in my planning when I said "no nativity."  That is just a stellar example of missing the main event:  the most important part of Christmas IS the birth of Jesus Christ!  It only took five minutes to make the decision, get the storage box off the closet shelf, and put out the pieces.  (The nativity has to share space on the English oak dresser with a massive teapot and a cast iron scotty dog but that's just the way things go sometimes--life is funny like that.)  I feel much better about all things Christmas now that I've put the nativity in place.

Strangely, my nativity lacks an angel; I've always wondered at that but never tried to remedy it.  But I have made sure to make the addition of a tiny tabby cat that really doesn't match the set at all.  I wanted a little porcelain grey cat but couldn't find just the right one, so the little plastic orange cat has made do for several years now (she is on the right of the manger).  Why do I want a cat so specifically?  Well, my favorite Christmas legend is the story of The Virgin Mary and the Tabby Cat.  

The story is this:  

Baby Jesus seemed a bit fussy and cold.  Mother Mary was beside herself to know how to calm him but she just couldn't.  Joseph also tried, and failed.  The shepherds tried.  The wise men tried.  All of the animals in the stable tried but no one could quiet the child.  Finally, a very shy little tabby cat came down from the rafters of the stable, and she asked Mary if she might try.  Mary nodded.  The little tabby crept into the manger with the baby and warmed him with her soft fur.  Then she sang a beautiful purring song that put Jesus gently to sleep.  Mary was so grateful that she marked the top of the tabby's head with the letter M.  And ever since that day, every tabby cat bears this mark of honor.

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