Monday, December 19, 2011

I put my Christmas tree up the other day. It’s a small artificial tree a bit under four feet in height that I have sitting on a trunk in the living room. That, some electric candles in the windows and a wreath on the porch do me as decorations for the Holidays. One of my main concerns this year was what reaction Penny, my cat, would have to the tree. Would she leave the decorations and tinsel alone? Would she be overly interested in the lights? Would she try to climb the tree? I needn’t have worried. So far, she has ignored it and indications are that she will continue to do so for the duration of its existence in the living room.

I was not always so lucky. Years ago my wife and I had a black cat with a strong will and a mischievous disposition, whose name was Donnie. When Christmas came around, Donnie watched us put up the tree, a real tree about seven feet or so in height. He was very interested in the process. That should have given us a clue. All was well until half an hour or so after the tree decorating was complete. We cleaned up the boxes the ornaments had been stored in and retired to the kitchen to make dinner. Donnie was left alone in the living room with the Christmas tree.

The crash came about five minutes later. I ran to the living room and in the process was passed by a black cat heading in the opposite direction. You guessed it; Donnie had climbed the tree and tipped it over, sending it crashing down on the television set. The damage wasn’t bad, a few broken glass ornaments, a bent aerial on the TV (these were the days before the advent of cable), and a large share of tinsel spread over one corner of the living room. We considered ourselves lucky. Donnie was banished from the living room and the door closed firmly behind him, but his cunning and determined nature persisted and the tree was tipped over twice more during that holiday season, once during a small party we were having.

Donnie is long gone. No—we didn’t do him in that Christmas season. He survived and went on to involve himself in other escapades rivaling his episodes with that Christmas tree. He calmed down somewhat in his later years and finally passed away of natural causes. He was a memorable cat, but I much prefer Penny. She’s not as adventurous as Donnie was but neither am I and at this time in life I do not care to deal with tipped-over Christmas trees, even under-four-foot artificial ones decorated with supposedly unbreakable plastic ornaments.

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