Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Old Gray Dog Just Ain't What She Used to Be

December is a dark month. The nights are literally longer, of course, but the days still feel long. It's as if a year that has flown by has suddenly turned coy and is reluctant to leave the party. It's dawdling, looking for its jacket in the pile of coats on the bed. It pauses to tell one more inappropriate joke at the door. It can't find its car keys. It can't remember where it parked the car. I want to cry, "Get out already!"

It is so tiresome, December. While the rest of the world is flinging their credit cards around shopping malls, thronging the grocery stores in preparation for Christmas, and draping every vertical object in twinkly lights, I shake my head in dismay. I feel about Christmas the way I feel about the Longhorns. I don't get what all the fuss is about--all the hoohaw over something that is a sure thing every year. Has there ever been a year without a post-season play off or a calendar without a December 25 on it?  Of course, part of the problem for me is that, in this town, everybody assumes that you give a shit about Mack Brown and the birth of Jesus. Honestly. Can no one in this town root for the other team—or no team at all?  Let's just get game day over with so life can resume its normal pace and concerns.  Better  yet, let's all do something nice and generous and peaceful for our family, friends, neighbors, and strangers throughout the year, instead of cramming it all into one 31-day period.

Adding to the December darkness are stories I've been hearing lately about old pets. My mum's cat has stopped eating and is wasting away. Sarah's (Tony) childhood cat has had incurable kidney infections. My Roma, too, has slowed down this month, lost interest in food. She gets confused when she wakes up suddenly. Her funny old face is whiter and her wise eyes are cloudier. Each time she lies down to nap, I wonder if she'll get up again. So far, she always does, but each evening, I pat her good night and say, "You do what you need to do, old girl." The process of watching an old pet navigate its waning days is hard, especially this time of year. So it cheered me today to read a lovely essay by Michelle Slatella in the NYTimes that describes the almost imperceptible process of living with a pet as it grows from puppy to creaky old thing a few short years. I enjoyed reading it, and I hope you do, too. Ta.

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