16: The Christmas Cat

16: The Christmas Cat

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Cat Did What?

The Christmas Cat

The perfect Christmas tree? All Christmas trees are perfect!

~Charles N. Barnard

I sat on the couch admiring our Christmas tree. My wife and I had searched several tree lots before finding the perfect blue spruce. It was about six-and-a-half-feet tall, full and plump. The tree smelled of fresh pine.

Though the tree smelled great and looked beautiful, it was a royal pain to set it up. My wife and I struggled to get the stubborn tree into its metal holder and to make it stand upright. Once it was standing, we pulled out our plastic crates full of ornaments and twinkle lights. We went to work making certain to place each ornament in its proper place on the tree. We hummed along to Christmas songs by Bing Crosby, Burl Ives and many others. We even laughed as we heard about Grandma getting run over by a reindeer.

We were young and very much in love. It was our second year of marriage and we had not yet started our family. All we had was each other and a black and white cat name Friday. This would be Friday’s second Christmas with us. We had discovered the previous year that Friday really loved Christmastime. She loved batting Christmas bulbs off the bottom of the tree. She loved tugging on the stockings that hung from our mantle and she enjoyed sniffing and nibbling on pine needles. Cats are very indifferent creatures and Friday was no exception. But when it came to Christmastime, our cat was a downright festive feline!

Because of her propensity to bat at Christmas bulbs, my wife and I made sure to keep the more valuable ornaments higher on the tree as we decorated it. After we finished trimming the tree and decorating the mantle, my wife called the cat down to inspect our work. Both of us figured that Friday would be thrilled to see the condo all decked out for the holidays.

After an extensive search, we discovered the cat was upstairs napping. We decided we could show Friday the tree later and also decided that a nap was a good idea. My wife and I napped for an hour and then got up to work on Christmas cards. Once again we searched for the cat and this time we could not find Friday anywhere. I looked in each room upstairs and my wife searched diligently downstairs. Friday, the cat that loved Christmas, was nowhere to be found.

My wife became frantic as more time passed and there was still no sign of Friday. I grabbed my boots, deciding that maybe the cat had escaped and gone outdoors. Then I heard my wife laughing and saw her pointing at our newly decorated blue spruce. Our cat Friday was sitting in the center of our beautifully decorated Christmas tree. Somehow she had managed to climb into the tree and not knock off a single ornament or mess up the lights.

She peeked out at us and seemed to say, “What’s the big deal? I’m just in the center of the tree enjoying another holiday season!” We laughed, and my wife grabbed a camera. She said she wanted to remember the moment forever. I thought to myself, I won’t require a photograph to remember this!

That’s the way it is with pets. They become a part of the family and they give you a lifetime of memories. Like all memories, some are happy and some are sad.

Several years later, my wife and I were decorating another Christmas tree. This time our daughter was around to help us. Unfortunately, this was the first Christmas without Friday. She had died a few months prior to the holiday season. We were now seasoned veterans at putting a tree safely into the stand and we had many more ornaments to cover our tree.

Once the tree was decorated, my daughter shouted, “Dad, get the stockings and candles for the mantle.”

I went to the garage and opened a box full of extra Christmas decorations. At the bottom of the box sat a tiny red-and-white striped stocking that had once been filled with catnip for Friday, the cat that loved Christmas. I paused for a moment and took a deep breath. I showed my wife the tiny stocking and she cried. We both missed our cat.

A moment or two later, we laughed simultaneously as we recalled the year that Friday camped out in the center of our Christmas tree. My wife showed our daughter the picture she had taken of Friday sitting inside the beautiful blue spruce. Our daughter giggled at the photo. She told us that we were lucky to have a cat that loved Christmas so much.

Our daughter was right. We were lucky to have a cat that loved Christmas so much. We were also lucky to have a cat that gave us many great memories!

~David R. Warren

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