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Kids over dogs and cat, thank you

Nov 21, 2013 - By Clair McFarland

The abundance of corny diamond commercials alerts us of the imminence of Christmas.

The stores tout dainties and ciders and other things without which Dec. 25 surely would not come. Tensions rise as people make plans to make plans. And "merry Christmas" is somehow cast as the well-wish of the intolerant, rather than the salutation of one who wishes another individual merriness on the celebration day of Christ's birth.

Despite the seeming bitterness of my words, the reader must know that I love Christmas and the weeks preceding it. I may even gulp down some eggnog to prove this point.

One of my favorite things about this "season" -- as the last half of fall is subcategorized -- is the Dickensian/philanthropic silent edict we Americans have imported: Choose a charity, Scrooge, and give.

The subtle insistence of bustling local souls and of radio and TV personalities to this end inspires in me a hope that the world is capable of ditching the rat race for a short while. It also makes me picture quaintly impoverished people, joyfully giving their last shilling to the even more quaintly impoverished. (Not a picture of America, to be sure, but a warm thought nonetheless.)

This will to give pulls us from the momentary urge to waste money and passion on that seasonal treat we think the occasion demands, as well as from the urge to Griswold our rooftops up and scare the neighbors.

Giving outside our mini-communities forces us to limit the extent to which we spoil the children in our lives, and therefore breeds in them a valuable tendency toward satisfaction with less.

Just kidding, I've never managed to refrain from spoiling the figgy pudding out of my children at Christmas-time.

Here my personal preference enters the column. Not being an expert on charities, I only know to approach "giving" with the wary avoidance of one in particular, and that's PETA.

"Ouch!" you say, "she's an animal-hater!" But that's just not so.

I have a pampered cat who sleeps on my feet. I let her rub her wet nose on my chin. One Christmas, I made smoked salmon so available to her that she re-gifted it into my house slipper.

As a child, I mothered a senile dog with cataracts in his eyes, something gross on his cheek, and an unparalleled gift for flatulence. I've also cared for rabbits, fish, snakes, lizards, and pigs. To be fair, the pigs met a predictable Wyoming end involving Clark's seasoning and olive oil, but I never said I was a vegetarian.

Carnivorous habits aside, why have I not included PETA donations as part of the reformed Scrooge's Christmas agenda?

Because I am a mother to more than dogs and cats now.

I have a hard time lamenting over the plight of Fido when there are children in this world who are in worse condition, so I have a hard time giving aid to Fido in these times of orphans and child waifs.

The onset of my career as a mother was and is characterized by a child-centered narcissism, wherein I see my children as the most beautiful, charming mortals on this earth. This is not to say that I find other children unattractive or uninteresting, but that I am merely predisposed to a bias formed upon the force of suffocating maternal love.

Every mother who is a mother at heart sees her children this way. Yet, some of these moms watch their embodiments of beauty and charm struggle with illness, starvation and heartache.

Knowing how mothers feel toward their children -- as though they'd do anything to spare them pain, as though they'll burst if their children can't be made well -- I cannot take the cause of Fido upon my shoulders, at this time.

If that makes me a Scrooge, just call me a Mama Scrooge.

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