Three French hens, two turtledoves, and my cat in our Christmas tree…
I remember that Christmas well. Coming home exhausted from a long day at the clinic, I called out for our kitten, Sebastian. Sebastian was also known as Bud, Buddy, Lil Guy, and Don’t-think-for-a-second-that-he-won’t-do-it Guy. He was the quintessential kitten — into everything. And I mean everything!
So when Sebastian didn’t show up right away, I knew he was up to something. I looked everywhere — under the beds, on top of shelves, in the manger. Yes, I said manger. The year before, my brother-in-law had made a beautiful ceramic manger for my husband and me. Of course Sebastian thought it was his, and proceeded to knock over camels, sheep, Mary and Joseph so that he could curl up in the straw next to baby Jesus. I think he felt slighted that no barn cats showed up in traditional nativity scenes. Point taken.
But there was the nativity, with no additional characters. I couldn’t imagine where he was. Then I had the feeling that someone, or something, was watching me. As I slowly turned, I saw two golden eyes staring at me from the middle of the Christmas tree. There sat Sebastian, happy as could be, perched on a branch deep in the tree. I’m sure he thought we had brought it home just for him.
As Sebastian got older, he chose to sleep under the tree with his new cat brother, Vinny. They spent so much time amongst the Christmas village that I had to remove sap from their fur. My husband and I later came to realize that cutting a tree down just didn’t seem appropriate anymore, so we switched to artificial ones. Sebastian and Vinny loved those trees, too. But I was always tempted to put a little maple syrup on each of the heads for old times sake.
I also clearly remember the morning I walked into the kitchen, half asleep, heading straight for the coffee pot. Out of my peripheral vision I noticed the green carpet in the living room. Then I realized that we don’t have green carpet. I turned and found our tree on its side – ornaments everywhere. Just like most cat brothers, Sebastian and Vinny enjoyed wrestling. They must have had a standoff turned pounce-fest in Christmas village. We had to buy a new tree topper that year.
Thank goodness he never knocked over my mother-in-law’s tree. Sebastian loved riding in the car, so we took him home for the holidays. He took full advantage of Italian Christmas at Nana’s house, and came back a little heavier every year. As soon as we would arrive, he would stalk the tree, pick one stuffed ornament off the bottom limbs, and hang on to it for the entire visit. I guess he figured it was his Christmas present.
Each Christmas, as my husband and I hang ornaments on our tree, we remember all of the friends and family who gave them to us. After 29 holidays, we have acquired quite a few. And one of us will always bring up the story of the day Sebastian discovered the joy of Christmas.
May you and your human and animal companions have a wonderful, cat-like Holiday Season. I’m doing just that, and thanking my lucky stars that I’m not writing about the day Sebastian knocked over the burning Menorah…..