Gift reviews written by our special correspondent, Max the Christmas Cat!
Max says: There are two things I really love about the festive season: turkey leftovers (especially the table scraps I hide down the back of the sofa until July) and wantonly destroying delicate Christmas tree ornaments with a casual paw swipe or a nonchalant swish of my tail.
But while shiny elves, snowmen and anything resembling a penguin deserve my utter contempt, there are some decorations I can’t bring myself to smash. Instead, I lay on my back under the tree for hours on end, licking a large candy cane and gazing in awe at these completely magical baubles: a pair of holiday icons that are loved by cats throughout the world.
The Yuletide Salmon and the Christmas Crow represent everything that’s important to us whisker-twitchers when it comes to the festive season. The Salmon reflects every cat’s Christmas dream of receiving a gift of top-of-the-range canned food made from real fish––rather than something that smells a bit fishy but is probably concocted from horse’s kneecaps, gerbil gonads and decommissioned tires (believe me: we can tell).
And the Crow––as every cat knows––represents what happens to naughty little kittens if they misbehave in the run-up to Christmas: they’re transformed into our arch feathered enemy and forced to spend the rest of their days stomping around angrily, dive-bombing pedestrians and cawing in protest like a stuck record (side note: give it a rest crows, we heard you the first time).
Bearing in mind how important these icons are in feline folklore, I was delighted to discover these two handcrafted decorations from Vancouver Christmas Ornaments. It’s rare to find a business so in tune with the cat-based holiday decoration market. And they even cover human interests, with a range of ornaments reflecting clever Vancouver and BC-flavoured themes. That includes detailed glass invocations of the Gastown Steam Clock and those colourful little water taxis that zip across False Creek.
I'm also a fan of their Spirit Bear (or kermode bear) because it reminds me of the province’s lesser-known Spirit Cat, a ghostly white feline that lives in the back alleys of Vancouver. Feasting on vegan pizza crusts and sipping from open tanks of East Van craft beer, it’s rarely spotted. But to us cats, it’s a legend we all look up to. And I love their decorative effigy of those grand old lion statues that guard the Lion’s Gate Bridge from dogs (this was their original purpose, but only a few of us now remember). Noble, powerful and handsome with a supremely confident dogs-shall-not-pass demeanor, it’s a Christmas decoration that totally reminds me of myself.
Which brings me to their miniature evocation of Science World. It’s not well know that the original architect behind this Vancouver landmark was a distinguished feline. He spent many years designing what he hoped would be his legacy project, cementing his reputation alongside Gehry, Norman Foster and Frank Lloyd Wright. Unfortunately, when he finally unveiled his model, the room fell silent: no one had been expecting a huge spherical building in the shape of a giant yarn ball. Dismissed from the project, his design was hastily recreated as the far less impressive geodesic dome thing you see today. Only us cats know the grandeur of what it could have been, though.
UPDATE: I’m delighted to announce that Vancouver Christmas Ornaments sent me a sparkling new bauble this year. And like the lovely examples mentioned above (all of which are still available), this beautiful new decoration maintains the tradition of reflecting a key feline theme. I can’t wait to hang my new Pacific "Dogwood" flower ornament on the tree, and I'll be sure to give it prominent position.
Naturally, of course, we know this flower by its original name. The Pacific Catwood flourished in the wild around British Columbia for many centuries. Traditionally, young tomcats would gift a freshly-picked Catwood bloom to their intended partner to indicate their undying love. Some of the grandest yesteryear cat weddings would also be heavily themed around Catwood flowers, with the blushing bride––her whiskers beautifully coiffured and her tail adorned with sparkling Chatoyant gems––entering the church on a carpet of delicate petals. Gazing at my lovely new deoration, I'm instantly transported back to these splendid nuptial soirees––thanks to Vancouver Christmas Ornaments.