Green: T'was the cat before Christmas


One December night a few years ago, as my son and I left rehearsal for our church’s annual Christmas festival, we met the sweetest kitten I’ve ever seen in my life. He (I think it was a he) was all black except for a little white tuft on his chest. His eyes were big and round and shiny and reminded me of a Precious Moments figurine — the kind the shop owners put in the window to cajole you into the store. In my mind, I named him Midnight.

Renae Green column

“Can we keep him?” Foster asked.

Now, I have to stop the story right here and tell you we are not cat people. We are dog people. As far as I’m concerned, cats are just one more tool used to make a person feel rejected. They tease and flirt, and right when you think they’re gonna be your best friend for life, they ignore you, or worse—they leave you for the next guy. I think most book publishers are really cats in disguise.

Dogs? Dogs are loving and loyal and adore you even when you don’t want to be adored. Even when you’re tired and grumpy, your dog will climb in your lap and lick your face and let you know you’re wanted. You’re needed. You’re accepted.

So back to the kitten . . . “Can we keep him?” Foster asked.

“No. We’re not cat people.”

Midnight caressed my legs, meowed at me, and blinked those ginormous eyes.

“Pleeeeaase, Mom? He’ll catch the mice . . .”

Now, if there’s one thing I dislike more than cats, it’s mice. That boy of mine knows how to play dirty.

“Well . . . “ If I said yes, I knew Rick would kill me.

Midnight cuddled up to my foot. Mewed some more.

“OK. But he is not allowed in the house. Ever. Period.”

Foster picked up the cat and carried him to the car.

It wasn’t until I got home that I remembered we’re dog people. As in, we have a hound dog. Ginger greeted us at the car, growling and barking like we’d just brought Scar from the Lion King onto our property. Midnight scratched and clawed and escaped up a tree.

A half hour later, I’d dragged Ginger into the garage and shut the door. Foster somehow coaxed Midnight down from her perch. (I’ve now decided she’s a girl, though I don’t know why.) I knew if we left her outside she’d be dead by morning.

Rick was inside, already asleep. So I said—and I’m not proud of it, but at least I’m honest—“Take this cat to your room and don’t you dare make a sound.” I mean, sometimes it’s best to let a sleeping husband lie, don’t you think?

Then I said, “Tomorrow morning, you will take this cat back to the church where you found him.”

Foster obeyed. The next morning, after Rick left for work, I woke Foster and told him to take his cat outside to potty. I know. I told you, we’re dog people. We’re clueless when it comes to feline bathroom habits.

Next thing I know, Foster came running in the house. “Mom! Midnight ran away. He disappeared over the fence and I don’t know where he went.” We spent the next 15 minutes calling and searching for that blasted cat. Foster was late to school, and we never saw Midnight again. I don’t know whether to feel relieved or rejected.

I wonder if God sees me as a cat person or a dog person. He’s done everything in the world for me. He’s given me a great life and a wonderful family. He’s shown me His love through bouquets of flowers in the spring and gorgeous sunsets in the fall. Most importantly, He gave up His only Son to take the punishment I deserved because He knew I could never pay the price on my own.

Do I come to Him only when I want something and ignore Him when it’s convenient, like a cat? Or do I love Him unconditionally, climbing in His lap and pouring out my love at every opportunity, like my dog? Truth be told, I’m somewhere in between. But this Christmas and from now on, I’ll make it my goal not to reject Him or run away from Him like Midnight did to us. Instead, I’ll give my whole heart, and adore my Master the way my dog adores me.

Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” Revelation 5:13

Renae Brumbaugh Green is a bestselling author and award-winning humor columnist. She lives in Stephenville with her handsome, country-boy husband, nearly perfect children, and far-too-many animals. Connect with Renae at www.RenaeBrumbaugh.com