Christmas Guilt.. And Atonement

8 a.m. on 12/26/14: It’s the day after Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature is stirring, not even the… two small children who were up entirely too early yesterday morning and high on sugar all day; nor the two fat, furry cats that were jumping on my head at 4 a.m.; nor hubby, who has already left for an early workday.

On this quiet morning, I find myself with no pressing duty, at least until our next event this evening. The hectic holiday dash is largely behind me.  I send a mental Thanks to my office, who allowed me the day off. Of course, I’ve already logged in to work to check messages and results, relieved to find not much that requires my immediate response or action.

And so, I have time to reflect…

Last night, hubby and I enjoyed a glass of wine, while Babygirl slept (crashed out at 6 p.m., and still sleeping at 8:30 a.m.) and Babyboy played with his new train set (Thanks Uncle John! He loves it.) We talked about all we have to be thankful for, and how we’d like to give back more. Oh, we do charity things here and there. But there’s a world of need, and we’re enjoying a life of comfort. I had to admit, I felt bad as I watched the kids open their oodles of gifts, and enjoyed our holiday feast. We just have so much. 

Ah, guilt. How it can creep its way in to any happy event, uninvited and yet always present. We’ve had the most lovely Christmas, without any relative conflict, dampened spirits, or unforeseen crisis. Meals proceeded smoothly and tasted fine; the autistic preschooler and picky toddler were delighted with their gifts. I wasn’t on call (though for the record, I offered) and Hubby wasn’t traveling for work.

But I ended the day feeling heavy. We have so much, and many have so little.

Hubby agreed, but reassured: Someday we’ll be able to give more, do more. Right now, we’re maxed out. And so, we drank a nice Malbec, all the better to wash away the vague holiday blues.

But then, the kicker. At 10 p.m., just as Babyboy was finally winding down, I remembered something to really feel guilty about. I gasped and jumped: Oh My God!

What’s the matter, Mommy? asked Babyboy, raising his head from his pillow, his voice worried.

Oh, honey,  we forgot the animal shelter. I felt awful.

It was Thursday, our day to feed the cats and clean the cages at the local animal shelter. I go every Thursday, religiously, with or without the kids. We happily went on Thanksgiving, and had planned on going in on Christmas.

Except, I forgot.

I frantically searched my muddled head- What happened? How could I forget something like that? The animals are completely dependent on us to care for them.

We were out of our routine, it didn’t feel like a Thursday at all. It felt like a Saturday. I was so preoccupied with Christmas prep and gift wrapping and all that stuff, that it slipped my mind.

Hubby reassured me- other volunteers were slated to come in the afternoon, to feed the cats. They’ll be fine, he reassured. But all night I was haunted by visions of starving and thirsting cats and kitten, meowing and howling from their cages….

I have the plan to take the kids later this morning, to give the kitties some treats and exercise. I’ll try to make up for my irresponsibility.


2 p.m. 12/26/14

An addendum: The kids and I went to the shelter. The lady who had the Friday morning kitty shift was still there. She assured me that she hadn’t noticed anything awry, except that one of the dogs was coughing. Babyboy, Babygirl and I then spent time exercising and petting the felines, one by one. We were also able to spend alot of time brushing the Ginger, the longhaired longtime resident, who purred and purred, lolling and rolling and loving the attention. The kids greatly enjoyed giving out catnip and treats, and I felt like I partially atoned for my inadvertant neglect the day prior.

This is admittedly an old photo from a fall morning at the same shelter, but as I didn't take any pictures today, and they did spend time cuddling with a new kitten, it's equally representative....
This is admittedly an old photo from a fall morning at the same shelter, but as I didn’t take any pictures today, and they did spend time cuddling with a new kitten, it’s equally representative….




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