I have three main theories in life regarding personal happiness and relationships:
1) Anyone who claims to “never feel awkward” is not worthy of friendship.
2) The same goes for people who don’t laugh at the ol’ “french fries as walrus teeth” trick in restaurants.
3) Cats are heavenly creatures sent by God to balance out the world’s most unfortunate catastrophes.
These are merely theories, of course, which can be proven wrong at any moment. In fact, the third theory on my list is especially contentious amongst animal lovers who never fail to mention the innate wickedness of felines compared to dogs. Normally, I would argue this point but in light of a recent “grumpy cat” meme circulating around the internet and an unfortunate Christmas tree debacle that occurred in my household a few years ago, I have been forced to reconsider my stance.
My mother pointed out to me a few weeks ago that, in theory, we should be a cat family. (If you’re imagining a family of human-sized cats dressed in matching holiday outfits on the cover of a Christmas card, you’re imagining something that is not very far off from my future family portrait. But that’s not the point here so start paying attention.) Everything about us screams “Buy a cat!” like the way we expect our dog to stay outside for half a day without scratching at the door to be let in and the way we dangle shoelaces in front of each other’s faces for entertainment.
But this is, again, not the point. We were a cat family at one point in our lives and all seemed well and good until one December when I finally convinced my mother to buy a real Christmas tree (because nothing says “Christmas” like pine needles sprinkled across your living room floor). After lugging the tree through the house and decorating it with ornaments, we all went off to bed, silently celebrating the start of the best holiday of the year and completely unaware of the schemes cycling through my cat’s head as she eyed the oversized plant from the corner of the room.
The night after we set up the tree, my cat made her first attack. In the middle of the night, a loud crash came from the living room followed by a series of nails-on-hardwood-floor scrambling noises. Expecting to find a Christmas bandit marching around our living room, my step-father peeked around the corner to find the Christmas tree reclining across our couch, broken ornaments scattered across the ground. “Maybe we didn’t put it up right,” someone suggested. And so we tightened the tree stand and went back to sleep.
The second attack came the following night. This time when we investigated, the tree had fallen forward, projectile launching the remaining fragile globes across the room and turning the hardwood floor into a glass mountain range for ants. (Imagery in the previous sentence trademarked by Tyler Vendetti.) Patches, our loving household cat, sat conspicuously on the steps, tail wagging, eyes squinting, and quietly laughing to herself as the humans cleaned up her mess. It was around this time that my mother started looking for small dogs online to replace Patches. (I’m kidding, of course. We already had a small dog so a replacement wasn’t necessary.)
Two nights before Christmas, the tree fell down again. For the next two days, we locked our cat in the bathroom as punishment and decided to lean the tree against the wall to avoid any potential further complications. So, on Christmas day, when we all emerged from our rooms to find that the tree had slid further down the wall, my mother wasted no time in hauling the tree, tinsel and all, onto the sidewalk 10 minutes after the last present was opened. People in passing cars shot horrified glances at our family, who stood petrified in the doorway as my mother seized the vacuum and destroyed any evidence that there had been a tree in the first place. We had kicked our Christmas tree to the curb on Christmas morning before Santa even had time to pull off his boots and place us all on the naughty list. For years after that, people would pass by our house with their children and whisper “That’s the family that threw their tree out on Christmas day. Those Grinches!” and “I hear that they buy a tree every year just to burn it and they use candy canes as firewood!” and other such embellishments. We became the neighborhood Scrooges, all because of one mischievous feline.
Cats are not the most cooperative creatures, as I have come to learn over the past few years, but my original theory still stands. With a few minor changes, I think their reputation can be accounted for:
3) Cats are heavenly creatures sent by God to balance out the world’s most unfortunate catastrophes except during the month of December.
So, if you see a tree on the curb on Christmas morning, try not to jump to conclusions too quickly. There’s a chance that that family just experienced one too many CATastrophes.