“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.”

I could have sworn my cat Frenemy rolled her eyes when Buddy the elf said that on the TV. My eyes narrowed as I looked at her. She sat next to me, upright instead of her usual relaxed curled position. Her eyes fixated on the movie.

“It’s OK, Frenemy. It’s just a movie.”

She fell over and put her head into my lap.

“Merry Christmas.”

I frowned. That wasn’t a line from the movie. I didn’t have my laptop open, or my phone near me. No one else was in the house. Shrugging, I returned to the movie, the best Christmas movie ever. I don’t care that people say The Christmas Story, It’s A Wonderful Life, or Die Hard was the ultimate Christmas movie; the award went to Elf. I bet most people don’t know the original script ended with Santa and Mrs. Claus splitting, ready to bring in the divorce lawyers. The studio executives made the right call in having that part of the movie removed.

“Hey, I was talking to you. Merry Christmas.”

I turned the television off and groaned. No one wants to have auditory hallucinations right before the holidays.

“Down here.”

Frenemy was staring up at me. Those words definitely came from her mouth.

“Jesus Christ,” I screamed as I flung the cat out of my lap onto the floor.  

“No need for such theatrics,” she pouted.

“You talk? Since when?”

She ignored my question.

“I got you a Christmas gift.”

My mouth gaped open several inches before I gathered my senses on what action needed to be taken. There’s only one thing to do when your cat starts talking to you.

“Do you like the cat food I feed you? Of course you do, you inhale it. Why do you get up and sprint from one room to another? Do you have a cat friend in the neighborhood? Is someone else feeding you? Would you be OK if I got you a kitten friend?”

I took a deep breath in the middle of my barrage of questions but before I could continue, she interrupted me.

“You already know the answer to those questions. Come here.”

She strolled from the floor to underneath the Christmas tree, the one I spent 2.2 hours searching for, scrounging through every tree at not one, not two, but three different tree sellers. On that day, at that given moment, it was the best Christmas tree available for purchase.

Proudly, I wrapped it in lights and covered it with ornaments shaped like cats.

“Underneath the tree is your gift,” she said with excitement swelling in her tiny cat voice.

On my hands and knees, I crawled underneath the tree,
swearing under my breath at the latest round of needles on the ground. Christmas trees really do need a tree skirt and a full time Roomba that can drive over it without scrunching it up.

A tiny small black item was on the floor.

I picked it up and scooted back from under the tree. It sat
in my hand, dark gray, almost black, and under an inch long. It was shaped like a kidney bean and had the texture of liver.

“What is it?”

“A snack, for you!” If a cat could smile, I swear she was beaming. “A rat kidney.”

My arm stiffened, shocked at the thought of a rodent organ sitting in the palm of my hand.

Resisting the urge to throw it on the floor, I weakly smiled.

“Thank you, Frenemy. I’m touched you thought of me.”

Just then the door opened and Jim entered, juggling two bags of groceries I had politely asked him to pick up on his way home from working out.

“What do you have there?”

“A rat kidney.”

“Don’t touch that. Throw it away and wash your hands!”

He grabbed a tissue and took the organ out of my hand and into the trash.

“Please don’t,” I called after him, “you’ll hurt Frenemy’s feelings. She gave that to me for Christmas.”

He gave me an odd look.

“She’ll be OK.”

“She told me she picked it out for me, as a snack.”

“Are you feeling OK? You look flushed.”

I looked around for Frenemy who now stood in front of the door, meowing at the dark wood,   commanding someone to come open it.

“She was talking to me, like talking talking.”

He placed his hand on my forehead.

“You’re burning up. Go lie down and I”ll get you some water. The fever is making you delirious.”

So the cat wasn’t really talking to me. She didn’t think of me and get me a Christmas gift. The rat kidney snack was really for her to munch on later. It was just illness induced hallucinations.

Disappointed and now feeling achy with a previously
unnoticed scratchy throat, I sank onto the sofa. Jim opened the door to let Frenemy out, who turned just \before she exited and winked at me.

“Merry Christmas,” she whispered.

Frenemy the Christmas Cat

Paws have hidden socks by the chimney with care

Sofas have been decorated with wisps of cat hair

Ornaments rearranged, some onto the floor

While human owners trek to the store

To buy treats of turkey and chicken

And thick dark gravy perfect for lickin’

The room is quiet and dark except for the glow

From the Christmas tree, covered in fake snow

The silence in the house gives Frenemy a pause

As she examines the rat kidney she left for Santa Paws.

She’s been a good kitty, no scratching this year

She made all the rats and mice and frogs disappear

No vomiting on anyone’s favorite shoes

And only once did she steal the cashews

Her eyes grow heavy as she waits for his appearance

Promising herself not to cause interference

Yet she falls asleep, way too early,

Missing the man that smells like stale burley.

While he gobbles up his fresh rat kidney

He checks the list for a gift for Frenemy.

She wakes up surprised to find presents galore

And bats around the gifts, searching for

The one addressed to best kitty ever

certain it will contain a toy mouse made of leather.

No where to be found, she flops over with a sigh.

She’s a tough cat, she’s not going to cry.

Scissors are found and waved about, ready to cut,

the paper and tape while Frenemy licks her butt.