Personally speaking, I know what I’m thankful for, and I’m definitely thankful for it. Yet I’m not the warm, mushy type. I don’t keep copies of Chicken Soup for the Mother’s Soul on my nightstand, and I don’t cry at any movie where Colin Firth sulks his way through a challenged Victorian romance. Coincidentally, I also am not crazy about the “caring and sharing” portion of Thanksgiving dinner. It’s not that I’m a Grinch or that I don’t have gratitude—I’m just in between being and having those things and trying to outshine Melanie Wilkes from Gone with the Wind.
Nonetheless, I’m sure it will be my turn to wax sentimental at some point this Thursday. And, this year, I’ve made an early New Year’s resolution—a Thanksgiving resolution, if you will. Everyone knows I’m thankful for a beautiful daughter, a determined middle child, a precocious toddler, and a husband that I’m still very much in love with.
But what they perhaps don’t know is that I’m likewise thankful for a pet rat that’s ended up safe and sound despite three jailbreaks from her cage and numerous daredevil adventures around my basement this fall. The odds are in my favor that not all my relatives are aware of how grateful I am for a Poodle who doubled as my nose during the better part of October. (A bad, bad respiratory virus left me virtually without smell, and Isetta made a point of ferociously sniffing diaper-clad behinds when my clogged nasal passages kept me in blissful ignorance of my sons’ accidents.) Finally, I’m guessing that various kith and kin don’t have the faintest clue that I am thankful for the praying mantis that resided in a spare 10-gallon aquarium for an entire week this autumn. I salute you, my little friend—my children regarded you as a cherished family pet, and you may very well have inspired Maria to become a future entomologist.
So, when it’s my turn to raise my second (or third) glass of wine at the dinner table this holiday, I’m going to keep it interesting by keeping it real. I plan on telling it like it is by telling the most important people in my life about the most important animals in my life. Further, I think any pet guardian worth his or her weight should consider doing the same! (Okay, well maybe blathering on about rats and poop-detecting Poodles might be a bit much if you’re on the timid side when it comes to public speaking at family gatherings.)
That said, at least think about showing your thankfulness for all creatures, great and small. Include Spot in the annual post-turkey game of backyard football. Talk up the benefits of caring for an anole to that niece or nephew who’s scared witless of reptiles. And, of course, demonstrate a touch of extra benevolence this Thanksgiving if the cat decides to christen your Aunt Polly’s leather boots. After all, she could have at least gone faux . . . .
All kidding aside, I’m curious how TAILS readers exhibit their gratitude for their animal companions during the holiday season. Do you have any neat pastimes or traditions that feature Fido or Fluffy as a focal point? Practice wearing your heart on your sleeve before your big moment at the dinner table on Thursday and post below!
Katie Marsico is a proud mommy of 3 human children— Maria, 5, C.J., 3, and Thomas, 18 months. She is also the happy guardian of several furry, finned, and scaled pets.
Marsico has happily written for Tails since its inception in 2000 and is the author of more than 60 children’s books. She works from home, which is located in Elmhurst, Illinois (though she hopes that address will one day be changed to a location in southwest Florida).