I hope you’ve been anchoring those trees down, hanging them from the ceiling, or generally keeping them out of reach. If not, let this story be a warning.
Many years ago, I had a roommate, Bonnie, who had a wonderful little polydactyl kitten named Boots. She was playful, affectionate, and mischievous, all the things we love in cats. Would she be ok with a Christmas tree? “We’ll just tell her to stay away,” Bonnie said, matter-of-factly. At the time, I had never had cats, so it seemed reasonable enough to me.
The fact that she had extra toes should’ve been caution enough. But Bonnie and I went and got a tree from a local market, hauling it down the busy Toronto sidewalks, gloves and coats getting covered in sticky sap, taking a break now and then to change hands that were tired from carrying. Cue the musical montage that also shows us slipping in the snow and stopping to have a snowball fight before struggling to get it in the elevator to bring it up to our apartment. With cheeks still rosy, we set it up in the tree stand, and the typical hilarity ensued with one person trying to straighten the tree while the other tightened the bolts, directions and miscommunications being shouted through the branches. Boots peered quietly from a distance the whole time.
Once the tree was up, I started to put up the lights while Bonnie went to the nice designer shop at the corner to get some ornaments we saw on the way back. I listened to carols while carefully placing the lights, standing back every now and then to make sure it looked just right.
Bonnie returned with four large glittery glass balls and stars that were 30% off, so only $13.99 each. Still quite expensive, I thought, but they really were beautiful. She hung them with care and we stood back and marvelled at what a beautiful tree we had.
Boots came to investigate the giant anomaly that took all our attention and she sniffed the branch tips cautiously while we sputtered off a range of admonishments to stay away from the tree. She seemed to listen and we started to relax.
We left the living room to wash our hands and try pointlessly again to get the remaining sap off our fingers. We heard a ruffle. And then a shuffle. And then the dings of bells that were hung on the tree. We ran to the living room to see two glowing eyes peering through the top branches just before the entire tree went down and Boots scurried off, unscathed. Were Bonnie’s new ornaments okay? We righted the tree back up to assess the damage.
The plastic balls and candy canes and paper angel were still in perfect condition while every single one of the glittery glass ornaments crumbled into hundreds of pieces. Our beautiful tree was ruined while a shadow of baubles traced its outline on the floor marking the scene of the murder. We were devastated.
With Boots trapped in a bedroom, we cleaned up, mopping the tree water from the floor and vacuuming up all the glittery pieces of our Christmas joy. When we let her out, Boots seemed rather unsympathetic to our dashed hopes and pranced proudly about which only worsened the wound. Bonnie promptly threw her in prison.
We salvaged what we could and still managed to have a wonderful tree, but a lesson was learned by all that day. Never expect a cat to listen to you. Whatever you don’t want to happen will happen when cats are around, so cat-proof your Christmas tree by anchoring it to the wall and prepare for the worst. And don’t buy expensive glass ornaments from designer stores.
And here are many people, including myself, who hadn’t yet learned their lesson: