Writing a "pet" column, which will appear in the Payson Roundup on the eve of Christmas Eve, is no easy task. People are busy and may not get the paper read for a few days, and who has time to read a pet column?
I would love to be able to write an inspiring column, one that would encourage every reader to celebrate this Christmas as never before. I would like to be able to move each reader to feel the spirit of the Christ Child in his heart and soul, but better writers than I have tried and not achieved that goal. However, I would not be true to my own heart if I did not mention the Christ Child in my Christmas Eve's eve column.
It is sad that Christmas has become such a nonreligious holiday. We have Santa, toys, food, gifts galore and celebrations. All of this should be a part of the spirit of Christmas, but not the spirit itself.
The giving of gifts and gathering of family is vitally important. But so many children are growing up today without any concept of why we celebrate Christmas.
Worst of all, some do not even want to hear the traditional greeting, "Merry Christmas." We are supposed to say "Happy Holidays" or "Season's Greetings." But Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ. And if we are not celebrating that, what are we celebrating? Why are we celebrating? It is hypocrisy to pretend that this is not a religious holiday.
When we celebrate the 4th of July, we know we are celebrating the birth of our country. We proudly display the red, white and blue. At Christmas, we display Santa Claus. Materialism is running rampant. Our non-Christian friends do not expect us to observe their religious holidays, but they surely must wonder what we have done to our Christmas.
We all, starting with me, need to sit back, relax, reflect and allow the true spirit of Christmas to fill our hearts.
The weather has warmed a bit, but we must not forget our feathered friends and those pesky squirrels during this busy time. Fill those bird feeders. Where are these fellows getting water when it is so very dry? Surely they would appreciate us setting out a little dish of water. It is such a treat to relax and watch the birds and squirrels as they enjoy the food we set out for them.
Pay a little extra attention to your pets during these days when you are busier and gone more than usual. The weather is gorgeous and perfect for walks with your dog. Spend time sitting with, and giving ear rubs to, your pets. They will appreciate it. While you are gone, be sure they are someplace safe where they cannot get into trouble or consume something that is dangerous for them. If they have the opportunity to munch on Aunt Mary's rich creamy fudge, they will and it could make them sick. Certain plants, such as the poinsettia, are also dangerous.
If you are bringing a new pet into the family this Christmas, provide him with some quiet time with family. Get him off to a good start by avoiding opportunities for him to get into trouble. A crate is invaluable at times like these, but make sure it has lots of chew toys, a soft cuddly stuffed animal and a comfortable blanket or pillow. Don't leave him in it too long, especially a puppy. Keep him with you as much as possible, talking to him and making him feel comfortable. If you worry about him wandering through the house doing what he should not do, attach a leash and tie him near you. Your voice, and being near, will provide him with a sense of security, that will help him through those times when he has to be alone.
May each of you have a wonderful Christmas with loving family and good friends. Higgins, Megan, Gibson and I wish you a very Merry Christmas.
Christy Powers is a columnist for the Payson Roundup. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by snail mail at HC1 Box 210, Strawberry, AZ 85544.