“Gather around, my children, gather around,” screamed a five foot two slightly chubby, furry namd Annie worn by a cat who weighed less than a pound, she clapped her paws together and yelled, “come along children while old Anna-sTASIA, tells a true Christmas story.”

Annie sat down in a chair next to the tv where a yule log burned and an elf on the shelf eeirely moved it’s eyes back and forth.    Annie had forty two of them placed in various spots around our apartment.    Christmas seemed to get more and more out of hand every year.   No more a dolly for suzy a scooter for jim, it was more like a private island for Annie, a sports scooter for Duh-Wayne, Grand father needs new $700 socks and the matching kicks and that was just the stocking stuffers.

But Annie was always all into Christmas, her favorite time of year she screamed the absolute second pie was served, for Thanksgiving dessert.   Annie was cramming minced moused pie into her face as she jammed a forty foot tree up our stairs into our tiny almost studio apartment.    Train tracks were set up through the entire apartment and they chugged  and whistled 24/7, they almost drowned out the christmas music which blared like store music.

Things had to be moved around at Christmas time; to make room for things.   Annie’s elves were showing up with their equipment before we had the Thanksgiving table cleared.    Of course they all had to have, ‘just a little’ before heading off to make toys and cookies and magic reindeer food so oridnary reindeer could fly.    There were 8 tiny ones in our back yard, attached to a sled.   A big sign read “Free rides, $18 a piece.” Someone that looked like Duh-Wayne was dressed like Santa and he was yelling, “Ho ho ho.”

There was a stable in the back yard, with a real camel named Ruben, and an ass name, Brownie.   A snow glob so big and so bright it lit the entire neighborhood.    45 blow up yard decorations including a black and white cat in a santa suit and one as a snowman,  a merry go round playing some song about Cajun Christmas, and an entire fleet of double decker buses that people were stuffing full of gifts for the Annie’s.

Annie’s favorite part of christmas though was gathering all of her family and friends together to celebrate the holiday.   Family like, Aunt Paulie’s sister Scoob and her husband, Scoop and friends like some guy Annie rammed her cart into at Walmer, and the guy who used to run the register at a store we used to buy gas at 14 years ago who was now living in Tibet.

Annie settled back in  her chair and crossed her legs as everyone else took their places.  Philly climbed on one knee, Annie Jr. on the other and K8 leaned over the back.   Grandfather sat nearby looking straight at Annie with his eager face on.   Duh-Wayne smoking a bubble pipe and wearing his ‘fanciful’ holiday sweater.   Annie ‘wouldn’t lower herself’ to having an ugly sweater party.   Duh-Wayne’s had Uncle Eddie in his bathrobe on it.   Annie wore one with a cat wearing glasses and a Santa suit, along with a pair of pants with Christmas Llamas on them.   I was wearing the same thing.   Annie thought it would be cool for us to be twins.   Annie was also wrapped in jingly bells.

She patted Annie Jr. then petted Philly, cleared her throat and began.   “This is a true story called, ‘Cara-lyle the Christmas Kitten,’ and it is the story of how Slamma Aunt Loosewheels and Aunt Dorky got their kitten one poor cold dreary Christmas day.”

“Wait, Annie!” I yelled standing up in the back.   I was seated next to an elephant named Paco who was an African Prince, and a duck named Linda who was tossing pieces of buttered corn in her beak and crunching loudly.   She wore a wreath around her neck.

Annie stopped rocking, pulled her glasses that had somehow magically appeared on her face down over her nose, and glared at me; one eye over the top of the frame the other through the lense.   “You said Cara-Lyle was a test tube kitten,” I continued.   I was so sick of Annie lying and making up stuff with her time machine nonsense.

Annie kept glaring at me and continue to do so even when I sat down and lowered my eyes.    “Slam,” Annie said after she had tisk tisked me repeatedly for 15 minutes.   “You certainly are NOT a stable genius.   They did not even have test tubes back then, I had to make her up here and take her back there.   Besides Slamma Aunt Loosewheels would have never believed there were test tube kittens, I had to make it believeable. ”

“Oh like your time machine?” I asked.   “Everyone believes you can travel through time in a worn out cardboard box that has seen better days that you attached some old wrapping paper to and a couple of dials; right Annie.”   I noticed everyone was starring at me like I was stupid so I sat down.

“Thank god that is over,” Annie sighed as she continued.   “It was the year Slamma Aunt Loosewheels was taking her old cold potatoe to school in a cigar box because her father had broken his leg and was unable to work on the farm.   Slamma Aunt Loosewheels walked 15 miles to catch a ride on the milk wagon to school.   The other children laughed at her feed bag dress and her cigar box lunch box and her old cold pototo.  But she knew they wouldn’t laugh when Santa brought her something special for Christmas.

In a pet store on the other side of the planet in an entirely different zip code, in a century that was further in the future than Slamma Aunt Loosewheel’s lived a little tiny, tweeny weeny small baby cat named Cara-Lyle.  All Cara-Lyle wanted for Christmas was to get out of the big city and live way out in the middle of no where on a farm that was so far back in the past that social anxiety was not even invented yet.

All day long, the pet store owner, reassured Cara-Lyle that some family would definately scoop her up and take her home for Christmas.   “Here comes a lady in a long fur coat and her hair is black and white just like yours,” he said.   “She will definately want a kitten.”

She didn’t she wanted dalmation puppies.

Next was a fat little man wearing glasses and a topee.   “He looks like a cat lover,” the store keeper insisted.   But the man just needed a bag of bat feed for the homeless bats in his neighborhood, however he did take a long look at the bald Eagle in the cage next to Cara-Lyle.

There was the man with the surf board, looking for a seal, the little girl with a hankerchief full of pennies who bought an untrained monkey for her brother, and the lady who purchased a little christmas pig for her grand daughter.   In and out all day long, fish flew off the selves, birds flew out the windows, hamsters, gerbils, puppies and goats all went home to be wrapped in paper, decorated in ribbons and shoved into stockings and under Christmas trees.   All of them each and every one found a home, all but little Cara-lyle.

Eight O’clock and closing time.   All alone in the pet store little Cara-Lyle kitten laid down and cried herself to sleep knowing she would not be someone’s Christmas kitten.   She was soon awoken with a loud ho ho ho.   She saw a light and heard a voice ask, “Where are the kittens, I need a black and white kitten.”

Cara-Lyle was too frighten to even speak so Annie screamed, “Over here, Santa.” Santa picked up little Cara-Lyle put her into his coat and left her under the tree of Slamma Aunt Loosewheels and Aunt Dorky.   And that is the story of Cara-Lyle the Christmas cat.”

“Annie!” I screamed.   “My mother used to tell me that story, she made it up.   I told it to you.   That never happened.”

“Didn’t it Slam?” Annie asked.

I just shook my head and drank another glass of rotten egg nog.





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