It’s that time of the year again. I simply adore December.

Even when things aren’t always wonderful and when life is filled with trials, such as I have mentioned in this blog in the past, or the knowledge that Wizengamot is dying and there’s nothing I can do, no matter how much I want to, to save him, December is always special. I realise it’s because of Christmas, of course; there’s nothing remotely religious about me, but I have never been of the opinion that you have to be religious to enjoy a festival or a celebration, and because I am blessed to know people from so many different faiths and cultures, the entire year is filled with excuses to celebrate. I feel sorry for people who miss out. All celebrations are reaffirmations that we are alive, and can feel joy, anticipation, and excitement.

Christmas is a time that is often filled with worrisome traditions and long drawn out arguments about what is and isn’t the norm, but I like that I have always been able to pick and choose what I want to be a part of my family’s and my celebrations, and that is what people remember when they talk about the Christmas parties I have hosted, and some day, when I have children, my rituals will become a part of their lives, and will always be. It will be something they will pass on to their children, and while they may edit, as I have done, a part of me and my ideas will be theirs forever. I like thinking of that.

My sister's cat Lucifer investigates the quality of this year's tree at my mum's house.

This year I have been more tired than usual, and so everything’s been a little delayed. The fruit for the cake got steeped in the middle of November, as usual, but the tree hasn’t gone up yet, and I’m lagging behind in doing up the rest of the house (Three Wise Men is the theme this year). I’m also behind in my baking, although I have finally made a start today with my sugar almond cookies. The house finally smells like Christmas. I like it when someone comes to visit and they sniff the air appreciatively in the hall, and I love how quickly they can be persuaded to sit down to a cup of coffee and some baked goodies with me.

I’ve got most of my presents done, although two important presents, one to my little niece (she’s really the daughter of one of my best friends, and I call her my niece, but we aren’t related) in Australia, and the other one to my other best friend in Denmark aren’t quite done yet. This was incredibly silly of me, I will own, as they really should have been in the mail by now, but as I said before, I have been more tired than usual this year.

I’ve got my Christmas menu planned, and bags filled with stocking stuffers sit in my study, waiting for Christmas Eve. I can’t really help still liking stockings; even Grimalkin gets one all to himself, and his stocking contains exciting things like catnip toys, treats, and a spanking new collar with a shiny bell. He’s an indoor cat, but he does look so handsome in collars; besides, the question of who will bell the cat is a very important one in my household as Grimalkin has mastered the art of creeping up on the front door when one is unaware of his presence, and trying to make a break for the border. I’ve foiled all of his attempts so far (except once, when for a terrifying hour he bounded round and round the garden, and even climbed the mango tree as I watched, petrified, from the ground). So you see, a bell is very necessary; when I buy his collars I always test the bells, much to the mystification of the lady who serves me at the pet shop, for clarity of sound. As I keep telling the nice lady at the shop, a gentle tinkle simply won’t do. It should sound like a bell that means it. The ones I pick always do.

Grimalkin is not amused at being photographed while he is half asleep.

I’ve even got most of my cards written, and I’m racing through the presents I have yet to finish so that I can hurry to the post office with them all, with many apologies, as ever, to the postal system for being tardy and last minute, like everyone else. I always have such good intentions to post early, and I never seem to be able to.

This post won’t be complete without talking about Wizengamot.

I only have Grimalkin in my house, but my entire family (mum, mum’s mum, and my sister) have rescued and adopted a number of cats, dogs, and even hens over the years. Wizengamot came to us in 2003; a little tuxedo kitten with a belly full of milk, and immaculately groomed, showed up on my mum’s doorstep, and my sister instantly lost her heart to him. Before he was a year old we were told that he had a heart condition; an enlarged heart that some cats were unfortunately born with, but that he could still have a good quality of life.

Over the years, as more cats and dogs joined the ranks, joining our large dysfunctional family like they’d always been a part of it, Wizengamot was incredibly accepting of them all; even though he was no longer the only one (for he was the first) he played with them as kittens, and groomed them (he was neutered when he was old enough, but he was so maternal that his name quickly became ‘Mamagamot’); when they got older he was often bullied by some of them because of his size — he’s small and perfectly formed, as you can see in the picture — but always held his own.

This year, at the age of just eight, he was diagnosed with chronic kidney failure, and we were told (at the time of his diagnosis a month or so ago) that he had days to live; he continued to eat most days, and we tried to lie to ourselves that perhaps the vet had been mistaken, and he had more time; however, he has stopped eating, and is near death’s door. We don’t know when he will make his final journey to Rainbow Bridge, but my sister, whose cat he is, has decided that he must die naturally, for she does not believe she has the right to help end his life. I respect her decision, although it is so incredibly hard to watch his struggle. I only hope the end will be quick, peaceful, and free of fear and pain, and in the arms of his beloved mistress whom he has cherished with all of his little heart for eight years. Too soon, too soon. He is being taken from us too soon; eight is no age to die, and I feel so much sorrow and sympathy. I try to go to my mum’s house (which isn’t far from mine) on most days, just to see him.

So there you have it. An update about my life, during the Silly Season. No matter what you celebrate, or how, I hope you have a blessed month, and a prosperous start to the New Year.