Christmas Kittens


I blame it all on the Christmas season and Fed Ex. The year that Christmas almost didn’t come. The pressure began in November. Each year I brace myself for the Holiday Onslaught. I understand that Santa has his elves and all those reindeer, but it’s just too iffy for me. Even if I can’t one-up the competition, I’d like to give a special gift, especially to my children.


Somehow, each year, it all comes as a new and dreadful surprise. BAM! the holidays rush at me. Turkeys and Black Friday and Cyber Monday and the Nutcracker and the Hallelujah Chorus, the Babe in the Manger, Wise Men and candy canes and oh, there’s not enough space to fit it all in.


Remembering the year that Christmas fell apart still fills me with dread. THAT year I entered the holiday season prepared. I had a plan. Full of confidence, I placed my orders in early November. Weeks to spare, but not so far in advance that I’d hide something in a safe place and completely forget about it until I cleaned a closet 4 years later. Who cared about Santa’s List? No need to check mine twice. I was done! New winter coats for the twins? Check. New curtains for their room? Fabric samples in the mail? Check.  New bed? New bedding to accompany? Check and check. I was done, done, done; let the holidays come. I sat back, humming a bit to limber my voice up for some Christmas carols. Stirred a few marshmallows into my hot chocolate.


And then it happened.  Three weeks before Christmas someone stole one of the Christmas coats. Fed Ex, an overachiever in seasonal delivery, had dropped the package on our doorstep at 7 PM. We were away, attending the Nutcracker ballet. Never expecting a package delivery on a Saturday night at 7 o’clock, I had not checked our porch before going to bed. Someone else did. I found it hard to believe that they were a child’s size 8 but never mind, it was gone. A replacement coat was not to be had for love nor money. Even E-Bay failed me. When you have twin girls, one coat is not enough. Someone had stolen Christmas.


Other blows were to come. The fabric swatches for those curtains hadn’t arrived, and on my third try I finally got through to the wonderful woman who had made me another set 20 years earlier, only to realize that she had dementia. Not only were my swatches not in the mail, but the time frame for “custom” anything had run out. I sadly wished her happy holidays as I got off the phone. I had a headache and my confidence was slipping.


And then, 2 weeks before Christmas, they told me they would not deliver the bed. In November they had guaranteed delivery in less than 4 weeks, but now the holidays congested their schedule and suddenly they were telling me December 26th.


Santa has broad shoulders but he needs them to carry his own pack. I just needed something under that Christmas tree that I could count on for my children.


In full panic mode, I wailed over my misfortunes at work. Cyndi popped off and said, “Why don’t you get them a kitten?” Staggered, I shut up full cry. My brain fogged. I stalled for time, looking for other options. I had to admit, nothing would best a kitten. So off to the Animal Shelter I went, looking over what seemed to be hundreds of cats and kittens of all variety, color and sizes. Most of them sick with the Christmas crud. I grimly adopted two, noses streaming and eyes goopy. Back at work I had them both tested for Feline leukemia and Feline HIV viruses and both tested negative. OK. Deep breath. I gave them a spacious cage in the Isolation ward and plied them with antibiotics and good food. I glared at them and said “10 days. You have 10 days to get well or you’ll miss Christmas. Don’t even think of it.” I will never forget the stress of that Christmas. The count-down was excruciating, but by golly, those kittens came through for me! They cleaned up, dried up and plumped up all in time for Christmas. And when the great day came……. Santa got all the credit. Thank you, Santa Claus.


Christine B. McFadden, DVM

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