By Anne Sullivan
As soon as I opened the front door Sylvia, eager for dinner, rushed in only to be halted by a stack of boxes.
“Don’t knock those over,” I ordered. “Can’t you be careful?”
“Can’t you be agreeable?” Sylvia responded as she threaded her way around the boxes by going under the table which was overflowing with incoming and outgoing Christmas cards, letters and bills. “The closer it gets to Christmas, the worse it gets in this house,” she complained at the top of her lungs. “I can’t wait until December 26th.”
“Are you still in the throes of Christmas depression?” I asked.
“What? Please repeat.” Sylvia cried. “I can’t hear anything with that Christmas music blaring from the TV.”
“Isn’t it beautiful? It’s a Great Performance Christmas Concert on PBS.”
“I’d appreciate it much more if you turned it down – about 20 decibels – whatever they are. And yes, since you inquire, I’m still depressed about Christmas. After all, I am an orphan. I have no family.”
“You have me. And Gordo.”
“Yes, I do,” she said after consideration, “but at this time last year I had RingWorm and Brandy as well. That’s another thing I feel sad about. Our family is shrinking.”
“I know. I felt very sad when RingWorm disappeared but I learned it’s often what cats do when they get ready to die.”
“But RingWorm was my special friend,” Sylvia said with the usual tear in her eye. “She was the one who taught me the ropes when I came here to Swingle Canyon. And then Brandy departed from this world just after New Year’s Day. She didn’t like me much but she was still family.”
“That horse didn’t like anybody very much,” I said, “but, as you say, she was family.”
“Do you suppose that was because she didn’t like herself?”
“I imagine that could have been the reason.”
“What an unhappy way to be,” said Sylvia. “And for 33 years. It’s all so sad. I can’t bear it. There’s too much sadness to think about at this time of year. It doesn’t make sense when you have people greeting each other with ‘Merry Christmas’, singing carols ordering Joy to the World and insisting that I have a happy New Year whether I like it or not.”
“You must get ahold of yourself and chase all those blues away.”
“Thank you, Bing Crosby,” Sylvia muttered.
“What I mean is you must stop mourning what or who you don’t have, but rejoice in everything you do have. It might help if you could keep yourself busy doing things for others.”
“Like presents, I suppose. I notice you’re awfully busy with presents this Christmas season.
You’re so busy wrapping presents for all those people that you don’t have time to go for a walk with me. No wonder I feel sad.”
“It is a very busy time,” I tried to defend myself.
“I don’t see any presents for me,” Sylvia said after thoroughly smelling and pawing at all the papers and boxes on the floor.
“It’s very difficult to find a present for you. You don’t play with toys anymore and I can’t imagine you wearing a sweater.”
“Heaven forbid. Promise you won’t knit anything for me.”
“No jaunty little cap with holes for your ears?”
Those ears perked up in terror. “Oh, dear. You’re not knitting me something as a surprise, are you? I’ll leave you if you do that. If you want to give me something, anything in the food department is a good choice.”
“Even something I bake myself?”
“A not-so-good second choice.”