Sunday, December 24, 2006

Of cats and Christmas trees

WARNING: Advent purists, cover your eyes. Yes, a CHRISTMAS TREE!!!!

The tree's been up for a week now -- the first one to grace the semi-saintly household in six years.

I retrieved the big box full of tree parts from the attic last Sunday afternoon, and sneezed as I sorted out branches of various sizes, pipes and footings. The tree came up. I fluffed out its branches, sneezing a little more, and opened boxes of ornaments that had been waiting so long for me to pull them out.

A new, dollar-store, lighted star went atop the tree, and I pronounced it lovely.

Wisely (I thought), I put the more fragile and precious ornaments higher on the tree, out of Jack the Brat's reach. This worked well all week; I would come home from work to find four or five of the sturdier ornaments on the floor. Jack likes to pull them off the tree with his claws, as well as use them, as they dangle from their branches, like a boxer uses a punching bag.

The tree, slightly worse for wear

I have some ornaments from my childhood, obtained when, about 10 years ago, my mother decided she didn't want her Christmas tree ornaments any more, and she would buy new ones. Not a lot were left from my childhood, but some, and some from many years of Christmas past.

My mother was never a sentimentalist. She would hold onto old butter tubs for 10 years, but family keepsakes would bite the dust, labelled "old junk."

There was one lovely blue ornament, with the words "Silent Night" in white-and-silver frosted lettering floating above a little village. I had it high up, out of Jack's reach.

Last night, Jack apparently decided he would climb in among the tree branches and wait, like a crafty leopard, for some poor, hapless cat like Elvis to come sauntering by, and pounce!

I could see the holes in the tree where the freshly fluffed branches were mashed down.

The blue ornament apparently came flying off the tree, hit the edge of the coffee table, and slid to the floor in a smithereened heap. One of its kinfolk met a similar fate. More ornaments lay still on the floor, casualties of Christmas carnage.

Some of the forensic evidence, held for future proceedings

I was somewhat put out. Jack the Brat obviously realized that, and disappeared while I cleaned broken glass from the floor and got ready for the Advent IV church service. He's been extra sweet this afternoon, but couldn't resist trying to climb into the tree once. Sigh.

"Honest, it wasn't me. I didn't do it."

"Yeah, it was Jacko, all right"

Ah well. I spent the afternoon roasting a chicken I'd planned to cook yesterday, but went to the movies instead. Betsy, the cats and I had a little taste, but its about to go into the refrigerator -- I'm having dinner at friends' tonight. The chicken will be good for leftovers tomorrow, and for chicken sandwiches. I used my special recipe of fresh orange, garlic, pepper blend and sage. Heavenly. Crispy skin on the outside, succulent and falling-off-the-bone tender inside.

I like to roast a chicken or turkey at Christmastime -- it makes the house smell so good, along with the pumpkin pie that's in the oven now. It will go out to dinner with me, at the house of some friends. Then, I'll be off to the midnight service, where I'll serve at the altar. This is my favorite service, and time to serve, of the year.

Now, I'm sitting here with a cup of latte, made with my own espresso machine -- my Christmas gift to me. Jack's perched in the chair next to me, his favorite spot when I'm on the computer.

"This is pretty tame, after being a TREE leopard!"

Good times.

Addendum, in answer to Caminante's question.

Stay mad? Who could stay mad at this?


Caminante said...

'Aw, Mom, how can you be angry at us when we are so CUTE? A few busted ornaments???'

We're cats after all.

Great photos of the crew.

Saint Pat said...

Naw, I can't stay mad at them for more than a second. They're just too darn cute.

I came home from the midnight-Christmas service expecting to find the tree turned over, but it was still upright and all was right in the world.