In Minnesota, it’s officially cold outside and the holiday season is in full swing. This time of year, I sometimes find myself complaining about the frigid temperatures and stressing about my massive Christmas card list, buying the perfect gifts, and baking 120 dozen treats. OK, I’m exaggerating a bit about the treats, but you get the point. Meanwhile, my cats leisurely nap under the tree, snuggle in cozy blankets and romp in and out of gift boxes. What’s wrong with this picture? Clue: It’s not the ones rolling around on crinkly wrapping paper.

First of all, let’s talk weather. Living in the Upper Midwest means several months of the year will present less-than-tropical temps. We can choose to whine through the inevitable or we can look for the snow cloud’s silver lining. My cats love the seasonal opportunity to press their entire bodies flat against heating vents. Although I won’t go that far, I will reach for my favorite fuzzy socks and fleece blanket. And I won’t deny a cup of hot chocolate may occasionally make the scene. The increasing darkness of days is an opportunity to slow down and rest our bodies more than we did during warmer months. Cats get enough rest every month of the year; we need a reminder.

And who decided we needed to make ourselves crazy with sending cards to everyone and their third cousin? I usually send family photo cards, but am reconsidering my choices this year. I love keeping in touch with people and sending warm holiday wishes, but the thought of sitting down to 100 cards makes me feel anxious. I may skip it this time around and instead send e-cards. With the time I’ll save, I’ll be able to spend more time with my human and furry family…and more money on cat toys. Priorities, right?

Why do I spend so much time worrying about the perfect presents? I try not to mindlessly spend money on stuff, but do find myself stressing over gifts — and I know I’m not the only one. I think about my cats, and the only gift they have to give is their love and some serious snuggles. That’s enough for me. Sometimes I also receive the gift of hairballs or stray poo, but I prefer snuggles. I think if we choose a gift, whatever the cost, with the intention of love, it will be perfect. I know we’ve all received gifts, and it’s clear the giver spent a lot of time thinking about us when choosing it. Give from the heart. It’s always right and never stressful. The only downside to purchasing fewer presents, perhaps, is the lack of gift bags and boxes. The cats may have something to say about that one.

And as far as treats go, I highly doubt anyone will complain about the lack of confections lying around this time of year. A few sweet treats are festive, but the onslaught of holiday sugar is downright horrendous.

So why not take a step back this season? Get cozy, make choices with loving intention and take the time to enjoy all the true joy that comes with the holidays. And on cold mornings when no one’s watching, go ahead and press your belly against a warm vent.

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