In Our Own Backyard...Gonna find out who's naughty and nice
The household had been mysteriously calm for several days. Ever since we brought out the boxes of Christmas decorations and tree lights and put up the tree, we’d been expecting some sort of chaos to strike. Though we no longer have small children in the house, we do have two cats. In the past, when we put up the tree and the rest of the decorations, it’s been kind of like open season for the cats, who must think we’ve put up a giant kitty playground for the two of them.
One year, one of them bowled over every one of our Christmas cards — every single day. Another year, the two of them grew fond of walking through the nativity scene, knocking the wise men on their keisters and tipping the baby Jesus out of his manger.
The young one, Sunshine, has always been fond of lying on her back and kick boxing the garland on the stair railing until the end of it comes dislodged, and the older one, Mufasa, likes drinking out of the tree stand.
We decorated the house a couple of weeks ago, and it was kind of like waiting for the other shoe to drop, wondering what kind of mischief the cats were going to get into next. Nothing happened. Not a single bow was dislodged from a package, and all of the Christmas stockings remained present and accounted for on the mantle of the fireplace.
I wondered if they’d grown bored with the novelty of Christmas or if somehow they’d finally “grown up” and realized the error of their ways. I doubted it. They are, after all, cats.
And then one day, I noticed an ornament on the floor. It was a fabric ornament with a hand-stitched winter scene on it that my sister had made for me years ago. I figured I might have knocked it off while I was watering the Christmas tree, so I hung it back up and thought nothing more about it. But the next day, the exact same ornament was on the floor once again. I searched around for any sign of a cat present, but there wasn’t a one in sight.
I hung it back up on its appointed bough and vowed to keep a closer eye out.
The next day happened to be one of my days off, and I was wrapping gifts on the dining room table. Suddenly I heard a light, “whap, whap, whap” sound from the living room. I looked up and spotted Mufasa sitting on the arm of the loveseat next to the tree. Normally somewhat stoic and dignified, every couple of moments the big cat would shoot out a paw and bat the fabric ornament. It would swing crazily back and forth as he stared at it, and when it came to stop, he’d bat it again.
I decided I needed “evidence,” so I grabbed my camera and zoomed in on the guilty cat, snapping several shots of him batting the ornament before he finally lunged out and grabbed it in his teeth and leaped to the floor before abandoning it and ambling out of the room.
And then, a couple of days later, I noticed that Sunshine had glitter and pine needles in her fur. I wondered if she’d started drinking out of the tree stand like Mufasa normally does, so I kept a close eye on her as well.
A few more days went by before anything happened. I was in the kitchen one morning when I heard a tremendous flurry in the hallway. I looked up just as Sunshine came galloping into the room at a furious clip, ears laid back and a wild look in her eyes. And just as she hit the Christmas tree skirt, her legs went stiff and she put on the brakes, sliding crazily beneath the tree … and clear out the other side!