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A Cat’s Christmas

December 23rd, 2012

In what’s becoming a tradition, I offer a story I wrote going back more than ten years now: A Cat’s Christmas:

A Cat’s Christmas
By Button Noseworthy

“Button! Get out of that tree!”

That’s twice. And he’s walking this way. Chris. He’s not even my person, he’s Janet’s person, and Janet is mine. None the less, Chris is walking this way and the second time was louder than the first so I have to respond; I look at him like he’s grown an extra eye in the middle of his forehead.

“Button!”

That’s three and he’s almost at the tree. I jump down and run to the other side of the room. Stop. Lick my paw, just to show I didn’t get down because of any old person told me too. I got down because I had some dirt on my paw that had to be dealt with right away.

“Janet! Your stupid cat has been playing with the presents!”

Now this is a bit tricky, he wasn’t supposed to notice that. What do they expect though? Has he ever stuck a piece of thread in front of me that I don’t play with? They know my weaknesses. So now he wraps up presents and puts shiny ribbon around it, and I’m supposed to know it’s not for me? It’s probably better if I just leave, but with dignity. No running away, walk slow, tail in the air to let them know I’m appalled by the accusations being made against me. Some things must be done right; just as a ballerina must point her toes when doing a pirouette, a Cat must raise her tail when leaving a room amid accusations and slanders.

I walk slowly out of the room, stopping at my food dish. Empty! Who do these people think I am Gandhi? Not in this life, although maybe in my last life I was Gandhi or Mother Theresa or Elvis. How else do you explain that I am a Cat in this life? I give off an indignant meow to protest the service at this establishment, but the staff here could care less.

Chris goes running past with the present I had been playing with ten minutes ago, wrapping paper, ribbon and bow torn to shreds in his arm. He must be planning on re-wrapping that one; this could be fun. He’s taking it downstairs so I follow behind, stealthily so he doesn’t see me. He sits at a table and pulls out wrapping paper, new ribbon and a new bow. I want the ribbon, but timing is everything when you’re a Cat. I settle about two feet behind him and start licking my paws; it is most important to be cleaning, in case he notices me here. My attitude must be as if I am saying ‘I always come here to clean, and what are you doing here?’ Of course, we both know what he’s doing here; he’s re-wrapping Janet’s present and he’s just putting the tape on. That means the ribbon is next, so I move directly under his chair. He wraps it around once, then crosses the ribbon and wraps the other direction. Just as he’s about to tie it, I pounce. He never saw me of course, until I was on the present and grabbing at the ribbon. Grabbing and chewing furiously I completely ruin another wrap job for him before running back up stairs. He throws the roll of ribbon at me and yells “Button! You stupid cat!” The ribbon misses, but it’s close enough that I pounce on the end and roll downstairs, all the while fighting off the offending ribbon. Once at the bottom of the stairs I jump back up on the stairs, being sure to go around the balustrade at the bottom. Success! I have completely un-wrapped the roll of ribbon and it winds up and down the stairs looking like the stairs had been decorated for Christmas by a dog.

Chris’s yelling brings Janet to see what is all the fuss about, and finds that the fuss is her Cat is being cute and her person is allergic to cute. At least that’s how I explained it, but these simpletons can’t, or won’t speak Cat, thus I come off sounding much worse than I was. She’s sympathetic to me anyway, and says, “She’s just playing Chris.” She’s technically right of course but she’s made a minor error of distinction: She thinks I was playing with the ribbon, but I was, of course, toying with her person. I don’t bother sticking around to correct her impression and I’m certainly not helping to clean up the mess I’ve created, so I walk upstairs and take a comfortable spot under the tree for a nap.

I love Christmas!
**************
It’s Christmas Eve and the house is silent. What’s the poem say, “not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse”? I can personally attest to the fact there are no mice in this house, stirring or otherwise. The people are upstairs sleeping, visions of sugarplums no doubt dancing in their heads; I never could figure out what a sugarplum is or why it would be dancing. No dancing down here though, everything is quiet. Unlike other nights, however, it won’t stay quiet for long.

I do a quick circle of the main floor to make sure everything is in order. The outdoor lights are on so that Santa can find the house and the Christmas tree is left lit so Santa can find it in the dark easy enough, good. The stockings are hung by the chimney; as usual, however, there are only two stockings. But what about that ball that fell off the tree. Better see if I can fix that. Unfortunately, every time I try and lift the ornament it rolls away from me. Soon I am chasing it around the living room, batting at it with my paws and pouncing on it, batting and pouncing.
I don’t hear him come in, the first I realize I’m not alone in the room is when I hear him Laugh. “Oh, ho ho ho. Button, you are such fun,” says Santa. “I am glad to see you again.” By way of greeting I rub my head against his big black boot, and he reaches down and strokes me behind the ear. He immediately sets to his work, and before you know it Chris and Janet’s stockings are stuffed full. Silent as a cat, Santa walks to the tree and starts piling presents under it. On his way back to the chimney, he notices the milk, cookies and carrots that Janet left out.

“What’s this then?” he says, as he lifts a cookie to eat. A minute later the cookies are eaten and the glass of milk is half-empty. “I bet you wouldn’t mind a bit of this Button.” He pulls over the plate that only a minute before had held three big cookies and pours a bit of milk on to it. I quickly run to the plate and lap up the milk as fast as I can, purring my pleasure at developments. Santa laughs and re-fills the plate before leaving. “And don’t you worry Button, I didn’t forget you live here.”

I look up from my milk wondering what that means, but he is gone. I can hear him on the roof feeding the reindeer Janet’s carrots, and then he is off. The excitement is over and I go upstairs and make myself comfortable at the foot of the bed. Sleep, however, comes difficult as Santa’s parting words to me run through my head and I try to make sense of what they mean.
**********
Chris is the first one up, and he wakes Janet immediately. “Merry Christmas honey,” he says and gives her a kiss.

“Merry Christmas” she says back. I walk between them, purring and rubbing my head on the bottom of Janet’s hand. “And Merry Christmas to you too Button” she says in her cute baby talk voice. The women is an accountant, you’d think she could talk to a cat without reducing herself to inanities. She can’t, however, and I have to take them as I find them. I purr an acknowledgement of the day and let her pet me for a minute.

We gradually make our way downstairs, and they head immediately for the stockings. I think I detect relief from Chris, no doubt he was expecting a potato or a lump of coal. He avoided that fate, however deserved I think it would have been, and happily digs into his treasure. Janet comes over a minute later with coffee for two and settles into her prize.

Once the stockings are exhausted and the coffee done, we go to the tree. Janet sits beside the tree and digs out a present for herself and one for Chris. I don’t want to miss any of the fun, so I settle myself on Janet’s lap, at least until there is some free wrapping paper I can play with. Soon, they are opening with vigour and I am playing merrily with a sheet of wrapping paper that has ribbon taped to it. It is then that I hear Janet say, “here’s something for Button. Chris, did you buy this for Button?”

“Yea right,” says Chris, “like I would actually buy the cat a Christmas present.”

“Then where did it come from?” says Janet “I didn’t buy it.” Santa’s parting words last night come back to me and I jump on to Janet’s lap. It is a plastic stocking with a toy mouse, a package of soft dry food, and a catnip ball, whatever that is. I don’t care what it is, I am the happiest Cat in town and I dive for my toys as soon as Janet gets them out of the stocking.

I leap on the mouse and start batting it around the room. Pouncing, jumping and whacking at it like I am playing a game. I chase it out of the room, and then back into the room. It bumps into the catnip ball and I pounce on the ball. Wait a minute, what’s that smell? Something smells incredible, a smell unlike anything I have ever smelt before. It’s definitely coming from the ball, and I grab the ball in my mouth to have a taste. Wow! This must be the catnip. This is incredibly, and I now chase the ball all around the room, grabbing it my mouth every chance I get.

Soon I am no longer Button the Cat. I am Queen Button the Lion. I climb to the top of the Christmas tree and wait for prey. It is not long before a warthog comes sauntering along. I wait patient and silent until he is in just the right spot. Claws out, teeth ready, I seize upon the warthog. Not a warthog! Chris!! Surprisingly, he acts like a wounded warthog and I find myself sliding across the floor of the room like a bowling ball. Good thing it’s a wood floor, carpet would burn. I jump to my feet and race into the kitchen where Janet is eating breakfast at the table. I jump up on to the table and slide across it, landing on the floor on the other side of the table. Now I could use some carpet.

I don’t know what’s going on, but I feel great. I run into the living room grab my ball and run upstairs, only falling twice, to chew on some more catnip. I leap up on the bed and … miss? I hit the side of the bed with some authority, and decide the floor is a good place for a nap, thank you very much.
***********
I slowly make my way down the stairs. It is dark and quiet. Christmas is over for another year and Chris and Janet are sitting on the couch drinking a glass of wine. I see space between them, not much just an inch or two, but it’s enough. I crawl between them and snuggle in, purring like an idling Honda. Chris reaches down and starts stroking my back, I let him, but only because it’s Christmas. Janet also starts petting me too, scratching under my chin. The tree still smells like a tree, giving the room a pine forest aroma. There is a fire on the fireplace that Santa came down last night. Somewhere in the background Christmas carols play, but quietly, nicely. This is nice, the Cat’s meow in fact.

I love Christmas!

For the record: copyright by Brian Gardiner. Use by permission only.


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