Kitty, The Household Fairy

“There have been household gods and household saints and household fairies. I am not sure that there have yet been any factory gods or factory saints or factory fairies. . .”  G.K. Chesterton

It happens quite frequently within the walls of a certain brick Colonial that a fairy-creature, known as Kitty, gets into a bit of mischief. There is torn wallpaper, cushioned seats, draperies, and banisters, that have ran afoul of her delicate claws. I try my best to keep ahead of her “adventures,” or best to describe it as the “remnant of her adventures,” by draping blankets over the cushions and banisters, and moving furniture in front of the shredded wall paper. Out of sight, out of mind does work in such situations; however, what to do with other aspects of her rebel behavior, I have yet to decide. Like, when guests are gathered at the dining room table, and she proceeds to jump in the middle of the table to drink from a water glass; or when she hides behind a wall until I am passing, and with a timing and precision which stems from her feline hunting genes, jumps at me. Her antics are becoming the stuff of legend, and she has taken on a grand persona, as fairies are wont to do.

Last year, she decided it was time to wake the members of the household up on the hour, through the night. After a few days of this, and desperate for a couple hours of uninterrupted sleep, Kitty was gently placed in a downstairs storage room (where there was ample food, water, bedding, etc.); yet, within the hour, the fatal scratching was heard at our door; and when I opened it, she stood there, seemingly smiling. I checked the room where she had been placed, only to find the door securely closed. It took the help of other household members, now awakened, to solve the Mystery of Kitty’s Escape: she had scaled the walls, gone into the ceiling, and climbed across the rafters to escape via a secondary room. I am certain Fr. Brown and Miss Marple would have been impressed with such an exit from a closed-door room. At the time, I was not; but alas, when Kitty peers at a person with her crossed eyes, and as the remembrance that she was found roaming the streets of Pittsburgh passes through the mind, her antics and destructive tendencies, are all forgotten. I know she is trying.

Wait, Kitty is a cat, not a person, I can hear the cold utilitarian Masonic-Communist-atheistic non-imaginative voices say. Such sorts, as a whole, dislike the freedom and imagination of The Home, dislike the notion that a cat by definition is a fairy sent from God to keep the household from getting too serious. However, what such sorts dislike above the idea of the household fairy, is the entire nature of what the Home means to man.  The Home is a place of freedom, and it is the place where they have no control over the population. If he wishes, as G.K. Chesterton would say, in his Home a man may decide to picnic on the living room floor, if he so desires (and G.K. was known to do). The Home is where life is lived, where the bonds of the family are born, and strengthened; where the Faith is taught, and lived. It is a living place, a place of adventure and imagination. G.K. Chesterton speaks to this in the following:

“Of all the modern notions generated by mere wealth, the worst is this: the notion that domesticity is dull and tame. Inside the home (they say) is dead decorum and routine; outside is adventure and variety. This is indeed a rich man’s opinion. The rich man knows that his own house moves on vast and soundless wheels of wealth, is run by regiments of servants, by a swift and silent ritual. On the other hand, every sort of vagabondage of romance is open to him in the streets outside. He has plenty of money and can afford to be a tramp. His wildest adventure will end in a restaurant, while the yokel’s tamest adventure may end in a police court. If he smashes a window he can pay for it; if he smashes a man he can pension him. He can buy a hotel to get a glass of gin. And because he, the luxurious man, dictates the tone of nearly all ‘advanced’ and ‘progressive’ thought, we have almost forgotten what a home really means to the overwhelming millions of mankind.

For the truth is that to the moderately poor the home is the only place of liberty. Nay, it is the only place of anarchy. It is the only spot on the earth where a man can alter arrangements suddenly, make an experiment or indulge in a whim. Everywhere else he goes he must accept the strict rules of the shop, inn, club, or museum that he happens to enter. He can eat his meals on the floor in his own house if he likes. I often do it myself; it gives a curious, childish, poetic, picnic feeling. There would be considerable trouble if I tried to do it in an ABC tea shop. A man can wear a dressing gown and slippers in his house; while I am sure that this would not be permitted at the Savoy, though I never actually tested the point. If you go to a restaurant, you must drink some of the wines on the wine list, all of them if you insist, but certainly some of them. But if you have a house and garden, you can try to make hollyhock tea or convolvulus wine if you like. For a plain, hardworking man, the home is not the one tame place in the world of adventure. It is the one wild place in the world of rules and set tasks. The home is the one place where he can put the carpet on the ceiling or the slates on the floor if he wants to. When a man spends every night staggering from bar to bar or from music hall to music hall, we say that he is living an irregular life. But he is not; he is living a highly regular life, under the dull, and often oppressive, laws of such places. Sometimes he is not allowed even to sit down in the bars; and frequently he is not allowed to sing in the music halls. Hotels may be defined as places where you are forced to dress; and theaters may be defined as places where you are forbidden to smoke. A man can only picnic at home…”   G.K. Chesterton from What’s Wrong with the World

“A man can only picnic at home.”

Again, the world is turned upside down in cultural Catholicism. The World says you are free when you can leave home, and travel all around, buying what you want, seemingly obliging all of your desires. Yet, as attested to by the lives of “stars” and millionaires, such desires only escalate, and are never satisfied.

They grow and consume, they are literal chains.

While Catholic thought (and the lives of our ancestors attest to) says the opposite:  a person is free when they stay at Home. A certain natural contentedness floods the heart when the proverbial door is closed to the world, and a man can sit by the fire, drink a cocktail, and read a book.

The walls and doors of his Home do not enclose him, but enlarge him; enlarge his heart and his soul. It feeds him, so that he might go out the next day into the world of rules and regulations to make his living by the sweat of his brow.

Why do atheistic Communist (and Masonic) sorts always push communal living? Why did the Soviets build huge ugly apartment blocks that looked like prisons rather than homes? Why do such sorts wish to deny man the simple pleasure of his Home-life? I think it is because man, without the refreshment of his Home, loses his view of the Eternal, of the view of Other Things, of the life beyond, and his view of God.

In Josef Pieper’s Leisure:The Basis of Culture*, Pieper (a Catholic philosopher) describes the importance of non-utilitarian based leisure. He states that without such leisure, man is disconnected from contemplation, disconnected from culture, disconnected from God. It is a good read. If a person was pushing for a world without God, he would destroy the Home-life of the common man. He would make the world outside the Home appear glitzy and glamorous, and the world within the Home, dull; but, as noted above, the opposite is the truth.

The world within the Home is never dull or tame. There is an adventure always at hand. The cat decides to grab a goldfish from the bowl while you sit in the garden to crochet a blue scarf. Father decides to make his own home brew while brother decides to build a skateboard ramp, and the young girls build endless models of dolls’ houses from boxes, and scraps, of found materials.

So next time you stop by, and the household fairy, Kitty, jumps at you from the balcony, do realize it is her form of greeting.  This creature will not be tamed, and we like it that way, for it does keep with Gilbert’s notion that this is a wild and untamed place, the Home, the place of adventure and life.



*Pieper’s Leisure, purchase here

Information on Josef Pieper, here

Image: Kitty Fischer, by J.F. Schmiesing