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Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter

From 24 December 2002 Issue

PAWPRINTS, FOOTPRINTS & ANIMAL CHATTER
By Judith Marie Gansen

Article 18 - What Christmas Means to Animals

As I write this, people all over the world are gearing up for Christmas, depending on one's faith. Animals are included in a positive way in just about all of the holiday decorations, cards and many gifts. (To enlarge photo by Judith Marie Gansen of "God Loves All Creatures", click on the photo or link)

We see that animals are always included in a nativity scene with cows, donkeys and sheep surrounding the baby Jesus. Cute little mice adorn everything and are portrayed decorating little mouse trees or baking holiday treats. One scene often portrayed is the lion laying down with the lamb. Birds, especially cardinals, adorn wreaths and are now even made into Christmas lights. People purchase gifts and special Christmas treats for their 4 legged friends. It's a time of giving and joy -- a time to remember the birth of someone who taught positive love that many of us feel in our hearts. Christmas brings out the child in all of us -- the wonder and beauty of nature therefore is seen through the eyes of the child still within our hearts.

There is no other holiday where the animal theme is carried out in cards more than at Christmas. I have seen just about every animal at one time or another on a Christmas card. Animals that we ordinarily consider to be "pests" suddenly become something magical--raccoons that raid garbage cans or become road kill all of a sudden are shown next to a bunny happily eating apples and carrots some kind person left for them at Christmas. Mice which are probably the most "hunted" of all living creatures since they insist on trying to share our living space with us all of a sudden go from being caught in cruel snap kill traps or hideous glue traps to now wearing little mouse clothes and taking on an almost magical air. Cats and dogs are photographed with little Santa hats or reindeer ears. Earmuffs are put on penguins. Zoos now give special treats to their inhabitants.

Animals are portrayed as the receivers of the best of our humanity at Christmas (except for the fact that many people still ignorantly choose to eat them). We make food trees putting popcorn and other treats out for the birds and other wildlife. Wreaths for doors sometimes are made from bird treats to decorate our homes but also to show wildlife and others that we are kind people. Animals seem almost to go through a natural "epiphany" of thought simply due to a change on our calendar.

Sadly, we continue to slaughter them for "food" in the mistaken belief we need meat to be healthy. We look the other way as hundreds of thousands are killed in a horribly inhumane manner. We torture and kill them in labs to find a better product to sell or to protect a company from liability. We inject them with diseases only people get even though science has proven there are more modern and less expensive methods that are far more reliable in our battle against disease. We hunt them for a trophy to prove our self-worth or feed our egos by wearing their skins. We exploit and harm them in circuses and rodeos as an easy way to make a fast dollar. We kill them by the millions in animal shelters every year because we allow them to over-reproduce and cast them off when we don't want to take the time or effort to train them properly.

People have often complained why don't humans behave with more charity in their hearts and more kindness all through the year instead of just at Christmas where people are concerned? We are asked to donate to help feed and clothe the poor during the holiday season -- but what do we do the other days of the year to help the homeless and hungry? As I look at the cards and the message of love and kindness to all God's creatures a favorite song comes to mind -- (sung by Elvis on his White Christmas album, words and music by Red West) -- "If Every Day Was Like Christmas?" -- but I think it should be that way for the animals too!!!

Judy

Staff: Animals in Print (free online animal publication) http://www.all-creatures.org/aip/  

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