I deal in hope :

A Special Christmas Cat

Cassie asked for one thing for Christmas—a cat.

We had to consider her request in the light of my limitations. She’d have to take of the cat herself. All too often, I’d be laid up after one surgery or another to keep me walking. My energy levels varied and the last thing I needed was something more to handle, not to mention the risk of falling if the cat tried to dart through my legs.

Hesitantly, we agreed Cassie could have her Christmas cat. I had no idea the change that would come with our simple decision to allow our seven-year-old daughter the Christmas gift she most wanted or how that decision would prove to be more than just a gift to my daughter.

One evening, about a month before Christmas, our neighbor Sandie, a cat-lover who wanted to give Cassie the cat, and her husband knocked at the door. As I opened the door, her husband winked, and I knew. Stilling a grin, I called out, “Cassie, we have company.”

She came out of her room, glad to see our neighbors. Sandie brought out a bag of cat food. She brought out cat litter, then a litter box. Cassie looked puzzled until Sandie’s husband opened his jacket to reveal a tiny black cat with a white snip across her nose that made her look like she’d just finished drinking milk.

Cassie glanced at me. I nodded. “It’s yours.”

With trembling hands, she cuddled the kitten in her arms as Sandie explained how to care for her. Christmas was extra special that year because Cutie had come to live with us, and Cassie had her heart’s desire.

Who knew Cutie had more energy than our two children combined or that she knew more tricks than any magician. She’d claw her way up my legs into my lap so I could pet her, seeming to understand I couldn’t reach down and pick her up. At times, I had to carefully watch my step so I wouldn’t fall when she rubbed my ankles as I walked.

Christmas sent her into a tizzy of excitement. One year she couldn’t resist the ornaments until, by the time she was finished, only the ones on the top branches remained unscathed. There was the year she ran up the artificial tree and hid in the branches, and the year she took a flying leap off the piano and neatly snapped the tree in two. Cutie could be frustrating, but we admired her ingenuity.

No wrapped gift was safe from her inquiry, which meant we stopped putting out the presents until the 24th. Once we unwrapped the presents, she leaped into the growing pile of discarded wrapping paper to skid across the room. We laughed until we could hardly stand. Cutie made us laugh.

Cutie knew just how to draw attention when she wanted something. She chewed up paper. This was not good considering I’m an author and, at the time, my “office” was part of the dining room. I often spread papers and research material all over the counter and table. You can see the problem. Cutie also liked to go into rooms and close the doors, locking herself in.

Then it happened. I needed surgery. For a time after returning home, my husband Keith took time off work to stay with me. When I could at least get from bed to bathroom and back on crutches, I spent time alone from the time Keith went to work and the kids got home from school.

I expected trouble with Cutie. I expected to hear paper being chewed and spit out. I expected Cutie to lock herself into one of the bathrooms, about the only doors we still left open since the main bathroom held her water and littler box and the master bath door needed to be left open for me to access easily.

The cat who often gave us fits either of frustration or laughter with her antics, seemed to understand that I couldn’t chase her. Hopping up onto the bed, she snuggled down beside me where I could pet her.

The repetitive action and her purring often calmed me enough to forget my pain and discomfort, permitting me to rest and recover. For those weeks I was laid up, she never chewed anything up while I was alone, never locked herself in the bathroom. In fact, she was the calmest, most well-behaved cat I’d ever seen.

She remained my constant companion as I healed. When I began walking in the hall on crutches, she carefully escorted me back and forth. She made the long hours when I was alone, not seem so lonely.

Once I was recovered, she stared at me with her large golden eyes as it to say, “It’s back to normal now.”

Later, when I took a nap in the afternoon, Cutie would often snuggle beside me, reminding me that blessings come in unexpected packages….even a special Christmas gift for a special daughter.

By Carolyn R Scheidies
From Heart of Christmas
Heartwarming stories, poems and Scripture as well as a place for family memories.


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