Six Years of Love, Cats, and Wrecked Trees
by Rachel M. Stiber
Christmas is my absolute favorite holiday, one that I begin anxiously anticipating in July. Celebrating the birth of the Savior, visiting family and friends, exchanging gifts, decorating, and eating: I love ALL of it! Every Christmas is unique, but the one I celebrated six years ago will forever be one of the most memorable.
named him Rusty. We knew Rusty was unique from the moment the pet store sales clerk placed him in our arms. With a white M on his forehead and teeth that throwback to the saber-toothed tiger (two of his top teeth literally extend from his mouth), this was no ordinary kitty. And his behavior was anything but ordinary. He curled in my lap one minute and viciously attacked my hand the next. When he wasnât purring sweetly or attacking one of us (usually me), he played fetch. We gave him a small, stuffed smiley face toy that was supposed to be a car visor clip. Embroidered on the smiley faceâs body were the words Jesus Loves Me.
When we threw this toy, Rusty fetched it and dropped it in our laps. He could play fetch for hours. That is, until we put up the tree. Then, he discovered a new game. This one was called How Far Can I Climb Up the Tree and How Many Ornaments Can I Destroy? The answer? All the way to the top and too many ornaments to count, including the special ones.
of the apartment. When he shattered the heart ornament, I threw his toy and screamed, âItâs a good thing Jesus loves you because no one else does!â Ten seconds later, I cuddled him, apologizing for the outburst.
Six years later, we have three cats and a dog, and one of those cats is Rusty. He still has the M on his forehead and the saber-teeth, but he doesnât fetch anymore. And, he shows no interest in the Christmas tree. Every year we decorate the tree the weekend after Thanksgiving, and every year we wait for Rusty to repeat his first Christmas. So far, nothing. He lies on the tree skirt, but thatâs it.