Good morning!

Right now, it's a few minutes after 4:00 a.m. in my time zone. Three of my five current four-legged housemates are in my lap, on my desk, and by my feet, respectively. I do work full-time during the standard work hours but I've always required little sleep and generally keep odd hours, a fact that quite endears me to the pussy posse. I'm fairly certain my nocturnal tendencies have convinced them I'm one of them 😉

As a participant in author Victoria Blisse's  Blissemas 2011 celebration, I wrote the following blog for my own website a couple of days ago and I decided to post it here as well for anyone who hasn't made it over to my place yet. Thank you for letting me share this holiday memory with people who not only love romance, but all of you who hold your four-legged (or feathered or scaled or finned!) friends as dear as I do too.

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The Sherman Tank In My Tree

A few years around, a few weeks before Christmas, a friend called me. My kids and I were out eating dinner and they were a bit perplexed: why didn’t I answer my phone? Well, I was pretty certain why she rang: some terrible neighbors of hers renting the house across from her had left their pregnant cat to fend for herself. Most of the abandoned family members were adopted, thankfully – but one kitten managed to elude any captors. Finally, hunger drove him to seek out my underdog (sorry, felines everywhere!) loving friend. Allergic to cats herself, knowing I would be an easy mark, she kept calling until my kids and I cut dinner short. We left her house with this filthy but adorable tabby kitten.

Easy mark, I said?  Well, yeah…this made our seventh cat. Seventh! Happy frickin’ holidays, my ass….Here I had been hoping for a fabulous bottle of wine from her and her partner’s excellent collection; instead, here I was, covered in grime, carting home this insanely energetic fur-ball. My friend had managed to push me over the edge into “crazy cat lady” territory – seven cats, people! – but – I admit — this kitten endeared himself to me, the two-legged children, and to the rest of the pussy posse who allow my kids and me to attend to their needs.

Not too many days later, this latest addition to our household watched with great interest when my kids and I put up our Christmas tree. I always buy a live tree. Originally from the Northeast, I equate the holidays with the scent of pine trees, and a live tree is a "must-have" in our home every year. We filled up the tree stand with water and my daughter scattered a few presents under the tree for a festive touch. We planned to wait to decorate it until the next day and she thought the greenery looked a bit too “Charlie Brown Christmas” with no lights and no decorations yet.

Decorating the tree the next day took second place to finding the new tabby inhabiting our space, however. All of our cats are indoor cats, free to roam our screened-in lanai, but otherwise buffered from the perils of the real world. My daughter was in tears, thinking that this kitten, lost and then found, had somehow managed to slip out, maybe when I left for groceries earlier that day. We looked everywhere for this kitten….

Except up the tree. I had opened a can of tuna fish, hoping to coax the poor little kitty out from wherever he cowered, thinking maybe one of my other cats had decided to be less than hospitable after all. Oh no…the cocky little sh*t came shooting down that tree as soon as the pungent scent of the canned fish hit the air, his wet tail dripping water from the tree stand, leaving a trail of pine needles in his path of destructions across gifts, a couch, and a couple of chairs as he bounced to a halt in front of me, rubbing against my legs, waiting for me to put the plate of tuna down.

I was concerned about putting up lights and ornaments, imagining the mess awaiting me every day after we, the human contingency, arrived home, not the least concern the possibility of deep-fried kitten if this feline dynamo bit a string of lights. You’d think I’d have some experience with this after a life-time of sharing my home with cats, but this kitten was the first cat who ever lived with me who actually had the audacity to climb the Christmas tree. My kids solved the problem: they decorated the tree with no more than edible candy canes, allowing the unholy terror free rein to climb the tree at will; and we resigning ourselves to mopping and vacuuming pine needles every day. We stacked presents in a closet, away from this foreign invasion turning our home upside down that holiday season. We also gave him a new moniker: Sherman Tank.

We lost the Sherman Tank not too long after the New Year turned to some retro-virus he picked up in his rough early months. After I returned to reason – tracking down the people who left him to his fate and running them over once or twice was neither one of my more executable plans nor in the spirit of the season – we decided instead to love the rest of the pussy posse all the more, to donate more to the shelters that care for all the Sherman Tanks out there – and to commemorate our one holiday with this rambunctious kitten the best way we knew how: every year or two, we decorate our tree with nothing but candy canes – and then shake them off a couple times each day.

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We miss the little dynamo we called our Sherman Tank, but he sure taught us to live in the moment! We're sharing our space with five cats now, and I'm adding some peppermint flavor to my coffee as I type, using a candy cane as a stirrer while I reminisce about that holiday past and enjoy my many blessings — four-legged and two-legged –this current season.

Drop me note — I'd love to hear about your holidays with the "other" kids!


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