Hello friends, and welcome to December! Thanksgiving is behind us, the end of the year is nearly upon us, and the holiday shopping scramble is in full swing. By now, your inbox is probably piled high with marketing materials—holiday gift guides, coupon codes, and the like—from your favorite companies. (And yes, if you’re on our email list, we’re in there, too!)

For many of us, the scramble is part of what makes this time of year so exciting. For others, it’s something to be avoided. However you choose to spend this final month of the year, though, we do hope you spend it with a smile on your face and in company of those you love. That’s the important stuff.

For the last monthly Q&A of 2016, I’m sitting down once more with MUTTS creator Patrick McDonnell, who has kindly set aside time to share with me his thoughts about the holiday season.

I begin by asking if he has a favorite holiday movie, though I’m already anticipating the answer. “I love A Charlie Brown Christmas, the Peanuts special.” he says. “That was really inspiring to me. I thought it captured not only the overall feeling of Peanuts, but also the spirituality of it. And the message still holds up today. It’s still relevant.”

“You know, I actually like everything about the holidays.” The corners of his mouth curl into a reflective smile. “The music is so uplifting, and people are in a better mood. It’s a nice time of year. I think people are more grateful; they seem to look beyond themselves and think about the bigger picture.”

He laughs a little. “I’m a corny guy, and I love all the corny aspects of the holidays. People let their guard down around this time, so you’re allowed to be a little sappier, and I appreciate that. The other thing I really like about December is that it’s a popular time for charitable giving. And when you think about it, charity isn’t only an important part of the holidays—it’s also woven into the fabric of our society.”

In honor of the MUTTS December Manifesto (“To Bring Smiles to Everyone Every Day”), I ask if there are specific charities he’d like MUTTS readers to consider supporting.

“Sure. There are three. The first two are The Humane Society of the United States and The Fund for Animals. I’m on the board of directors for those organizations, and they both do terrific work. The third is … your local animal shelter. No matter where you live in the country or around the world, there’s a shelter nearby with animals in need, who are relying on support from their local community.”

Readers, would you like to make a difference for animals in your community this holiday season? Contact your local shelter to find out what resources are in highest demand in your area. Monetary donations are always appreciated, of course, but many shelters also require supplies (such as blankets, bedding, toys, and food) and on-site volunteers to bathe, feed, or play with the animals.

“There’s always a way to help,” says Patrick, “and every little ounce of help makes a difference.”

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By MUTTS Staff Writer Ali Datko

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