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“CHRISTMAS!!!” I faintly heard the shouts of the small humans as they pounded across the hall, presumably to the bigger humans’ room. I ran to the bottom of the stairs and paused at the first step, my ears tilted forward to listen to the ruckus.
“Mom, wake up! Dad! It’s Christmas! Come on!” I heard, then backed up quickly around the corner when I sensed the children’s stomping footsteps coming to the top of the stairs. I looked quickly around for a place to hide, and scurried under the dining table. Here there were many chair and table legs that will surely prevent a kid from coming to get me.
But it didn’t matter. The littlest boy came down first; he didn’t notice me, running past me into the living room to look at a bunch of colorful boxes under the green tree. I love the green tree; I didn’t want anyone messing with my tree. So I reluctantly left my hiding place and padded over to the tree, getting a whiff of the pine needles before jumping up into it to claim it as mine. Bright balls that were hung on the tree toppled to the floor, but I was used to that happening. I didn’t know why the humans liked to decorate my tree with all those useless shiny balls.
Unfortunately my jumping into the tree alerted the boy to my presence. He looked up at my head poking through the branches down at him and smiled, reaching out his arms to try and grab me. I shrank away from his hands and flattened my ears with distaste. I had no idea why he was so excited this particular morning, but he got excited very easily, so it wasn’t unusual.
Try as I might, I could not avoid the boy’s stubby fingers for long. In a few minutes he had pried me off of the green tree and was rocking me back and forth in his arms, singing a strange song. He only had a grip on me from under my front legs, so the rest of my body was swinging wildly back and forth. I just endured it. I had learned by now not to scratch my way out of his hold; otherwise he would cry from my claws and the big humans would punish me.
Soon, the older sister came down too and knelt by the green tree with something jingling in her hand. She patted me on the head, then tied the object around my neck as the boy stilled my struggles. The siblings laughed at me together as I managed to run away, my back fur bristling with annoyance. But that jingling noise followed me. It was coming from a shiny gold thing around my neck. I scrabbled at it with my teeth and claws, but it would not break loose; instead, it just kept jingling as if it were laughing at me too.
The boy and girl came to watch me as I rolled around on the floor in a fury. Finally the girl caught me, and I thought she was going to take the thing off, but instead she wrapped a colorful piece of cloth around my torso and put four little things on my feet. I was totally incapacitated. When she set me back on my feet, I crumpled to the floor, giving up any hope of being able to run away. Several times the girl and boy took turns setting me back up again, and laughing as I fell every time.
The things on my feet came to a point at the tip, with little puff balls on the end. I tugged at these puffs with my teeth, but the shoes were strapped to my legs with an elastic band. I flopped over onto the carpet and lay still, my eyes half closed, as the children poked and prodded at me, still giggling. Why did they have to torture me so?
“Hey, hey, leave the cat alone,” the adult female said, walking into the room and smiling at the scene in front of her. I opened my eyes wider and stared at her as the children turned away from me, diverting their attention to their mother. I still couldn’t get up, so I just lay there as the whole family congregated around my green tree. I made several attempts to take shelter under the tree, but the stiff cloth felt very limiting and all I managed to do was roll over a little.
The mother came to my rescue again, kneeling down and undoing my chains of fabric. “I know you like dressing Tux as a Christmas elf every year, but he doesn’t like it, you know,” she called to the brother and sister as she set me free. As soon as I felt the last shoe slip off my paw, I was off to safety, taking cover far enough away where I could observe the human activities without being followed.
The woman had left the jingly ball around my neck, and I tugged at the ribbon tying it to me absentmindedly, watching as the father passed around different boxes to everyone. I noticed that the bigger humans had considerably less boxes than the smaller ones, and I wondered why. The children’s eyes gleamed at the sight of their growing piles, and the overall atmosphere was happy and joyful.
“Oh! The music!” The father said after there were no more boxes left under my tree. He got up and went over to a black rectangular box and plugged it into the wall, raising a long metallic stick out from a corner. Now was my chance. While the father was busy changing the sounds that emanated from the box, I crept from the side of the room and settled under my tree. There was much more space now that the boxes had been distributed, enough that I could stretch out over the circular rug that wrapped around the base of the tree. I squeezed my eyes shut contentedly, tuning out the excited noises of the family as the father settled on a particular form of music that had little jingles mixed in.
In the hour that followed, the people took turns opening all their boxes, revealing various sorts of objects that made them smile from ear to ear. Some of the boxes had ribbons on the tops, and as the humans tossed them away, I pounced on them in glee. At one point, as the boy was taking his turn opening a box, the girl dragged a ribbon around on the floor and I chased after it, eventually tugging my prize from her hand. This was the life.
After all that remained of the boxes was a pile of colorful wrapping and ribbons, the family moved on in their path of destruction to these pouches on the wall. Each member took a certain pouch from the hook that held it, then dumped out the contents onto the carpet. I inspected each item myself, sniffing them carefully until the person to whom they belonged pushed me away. The children squealed with delight, the parents watched their children’s reactions, and I was at the center of it all, watching everything, missing nothing.
After everything was over and done, the family got up and went to breakfast, leaving me alone in confusion. Just like that, they were gone, leaving all of the wonderful things behind. Suddenly feeling alone but not wanting to show it, I sauntered after them.
What a strange morning this was!