It was the winter of 1994 in the mountain hamlet of Running Springs, California. I might not have known it as I was only a fourteen year old but ore teen romping through our mountain forest most days. But in this Christmas season, a crazy cat lady was born. Between shoveling the three feet of snow in our icy driveway, helping my dad hand split and stack wood and helping my mom bake a kitchen full of Christmas cookies for the whole family and many friends, my brothers and I spent our free time playing outside with our herd of cats. My mom basically told me to “Go play outside” When I was a ten, and when I was not learning how to cook in the kitchen with her, I did just that. And I basicully I have never stopped playing outside.
This was the nineties in southern California. It was a much simpler time before iPhone’s and the internet and the Snap Chat. Families didn’t buy personalized holiday cards from Costco. Shit, Costco was still probably Price Club back in 1994!
In 1994 my dad was a long haul truck driver and when he did make it home off the busy highways of America, our family tried to make the family time count. We always had family dinner around the dinner table, with a blessing and a hand-tossed salad, and never ate in front of the t.v. The holidays were important for our family because Dad didn’t always make it home for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It seems like a different world from 2019, when most kids can’t be dragged away from their phone, video games and social media.
Flashback to Christmas 1994 in our small mountain town; My dad had a brilliant idea and also an expensive 1990’s camera with a self-timer. We would make a family Christmas card! And we would all hold a cat since we had a plethora of kitty cats. And also all the cats would wear Santa hats because cats love to wear hats, right?
This is where I should mention the cats were only slightly feral
Everyone in my family, my parents and my two younger brothers put on our best Christmas looking sweaters. My little brother Sean had helped my dad build a Christmas looking backdrop. We wrangled up five cats who were hanging around the house glaring at us and licking their paws. It was time to make a Christmas card, it was going to be fun and it was going to be merry, damn it!
Are cat people made or are we born this way?
There was a lot of crying and hissing and if I remember correctly and only some of that was from the cats, as we tried for a good hour to make the perfect family Christmas card. This was before iPhones with burst mood and digital cameras. We had to take the perfect photo because we were working with actual film. Plus my parents had a house full of cats and children to feed and film was expensive in 1994! I love this version of the photo, with my little brother Sean holding Boots like an angel. This version of the Christmas card made the whole ordeal look like a good time for everyone, including all five glaring and hissing cats. It doesn’t show any of the tears, the scratches or the blood.
Yes, more then twenty years and many, many felines later and I am still a crazy cat lady. I’ll admit many a Christmas card over the years have shown our family holding cats in sweaters. Once a crazy cat lady, always a crazy cat lady, I guess.