Thinking of the Animals
I grew up on a ranch where raising Hereford cattle was our main source of income. We raised the cattle because we enjoyed them, and we provided them with the very best of care. During all of those years we never forgot the cattle and other ranch animals when it came to Thanksgiving and especially Christmas.
On Christmas morning we opened our Christmas gifts early—before it was daylight—so that we could do our chores and cattle feeding as usual. While doing chores we wished the animals a very merry Christmas and usually gave them a little extra feed treat. The milk cow got a little extra grain as did the team of horses that pulled the feed sled. The chickens got potato peels and other scraps saved from the night before with their grain. Dad forked out a little extra hay for the cows, horses, sheep, and whatever other livestock lived on the ranch.
The cats and dog got treats, too. Mom often saved meat scraps for the cats and a big bone for the dog. All of this might seem a little goofy, but it was our way showing gratitude for the animals that lived with us.
As the years passed, Lyle and I married and had our own children, and we carried on this same Christmas tradition. In the years that we raised livestock, we rose early on Christmas morning. The boys enjoyed the gifts Santa had left under the tree and opened their stockings. Then it was time to do chores so that the animals wouldn’t have to wait for their breakfasts. All of the animals got special Christmas pats and a little extra to eat. Only after the chores were finished did we go back to the house to open the gifts under the tree.
Most families have pets, and some of them serve lifesaving missions. Most agree that pets provide comfort for their owners. What better time to thank our animals but Christmas? Just for fun, I daydreamed a list of “gifts” that animals might enjoy receiving on Christmas.
*extra servings of hay filled with alfalfa leaves or clover
*a stall filled with straw for resting on a cold night
*a ball for chasing
*a feeder filled with bird food
*a handful of grain for licking
*a protein tub
*a little bit of leftover turkey
*special cat/dog treats
*a new collar
*a nice big bone
*a pinecone rolled in peanut butter and seeds
*leftover turkey drippings served up in the disposable baking pan
*soft dog/cat bed
*a bowl of warm milk
*a gentle pat on the head
*to be treated well all year long
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