Authors: Carol Wallace,Bill Wallance
Something hit me on the paw.
I pulled my foot back and peeked under the door.
Daddy's feet were close. A newspaper snapped at the empty space where my paw had been.
“Stop it, Gray!” Daddy yelled at me. “You can come out later. Settle down!”
I crouched near the door so that I could see what was happening. Feet were all that was there. They made a plopping sound when they walked on the hard, shiny floor that went from the back door to the kitchen. I couldn't see the kitchen from where I was, but across the bright floor was the table where Mama and Daddy ate. Beyond that was the living room. The floor, in both places, was covered with the same fuzzy carpet that was in the playroom.
Mama's feet and Daddy's feet seemed to scamper all over the living room and around the table. When they disappeared into the kitchen, I could hear their feet on the floor. I've never felt so much excitement in our home. Suddenly Callie's whiskers and eye appeared again.
“I warned you to quit shaking the door!” Callie flattened her body against the floor.
“What's going on out there? I need to see what's happening.”
“It's the day before Christmas, and there is going to be a party in the house. The children and the Grandkids are coming home.”
“What are children? What are Grandkids?”
“Children are little Human babies. Only these
babies are grown-ups now and they have some children of their own.”
My head cocked to one side. “What are Grandkids?” I frowned.
From the other side of the door, there was nothing but a long silence.
“Callie? What are Grandkids?”
“You'll have to wait and see for yourself.”
“What about the tree in the living room? It looked like a good climbing tree, but Mama put all that stuff on it. And those pretty boxes in the closet â¦ What are they?”
The doorbell rang and Callie scampered away without answering. I tried to peer through the space under the door. Callie was gone. The feet were gone, too.
I sat up and wrapped my tail around my feet. Listening, I leaned my sharp ears close to the door. Sounds filled the air. Voices and squeals of happiness were everywhere. I wanted to grab at the door again, but I could wait. It was awfully cold outside, and the Daddy might put me there instead of just yelling at me. So, with nothing else to do, I washed my paws.
All at once the door flew open. I jumped back to keep from getting clunked in the head.
“There he is!” Small hands grabbed me, swooped me up off the floor, and held me tight. Four new
faces stared at me. “Hey, he's cute. Let me hold him.”
“No, I've got him!”
“Give him to me!” the voices yelled.
“Go get Callie! She's here somewhere!”
“I want the kitty!” a small girl said.
One of the hands that held me let go and pushed at the little girl's face.
“Mommm â¦ eee!” the little girl squealed.
Suddenly Daddy was standing at the door.
“Joshua, put Gray down. He isn't used to kids grabbing at him. He usually stays outside.”
“But, Grandpa, he likes me!”
“Put him down. Let him get used to you first. There are lots of things going on here that Gray hasn't ever seen before. He needs a chance to get used to you.”
When I touched the floor, my feet couldn't move fast enough to get me out of there. Trouble was, the floor between the playroom and the living room was different from that in the rest of the house. My feet were on the slick, shiny stuff instead of the thick, warm carpet. I ran. Only, my feet just churned. No matter how hard I ran, I didn't go anyplace. All I did was spin. Finally my paws caught!
When I raced through the living room, there were big people everywhere. Packages and stuff
were all over the room. What was going on? I had to hide.
I tore down the hall, skidded around the corner, raced past the bathroom door, and into the safety of the bedroom. Gasping for breath, I slid under the bed. The only sound was a loud thumping inside my chest. I flattened myself on the floor and waited. I could hear the sounds of excitement coming from the living room.
“Did they scare you?” Callie's soft purr came from on top of the bed. I stuck my head out and looked up. Callie leaned over the edge.
“They were screaming at me! They were grabbing me. Who are they? What's going on?”
“Those are the Grandkids!” Callie answered. “I don't know how they got that nameâ
kids. I never thought they were all that grand. They don't bother me too much anymore. Mama and Daddy make them leave me alone. I think that you are in for some trouble though. Grandkids love little kitties. You're not that little anymore, but to them you're still a kitty.”
A tense and nervous feeling shuddered through me. I wanted to run. Where could I go? I ducked back under the bed. My ears were perked, listening to all the racket from the living room. I could hear Callie purring from the pillow on the bed above me.
It wasn't long before Mama came in and
walked over to her. She petted Callie gently. “Gray, where are you, kitty? The kids want to see you. Here, kitty!”
Mama looked under the bed. I backed up quietly. She didn't see me. Holding my breath, I didn't even move.
She petted Callie another time and walked out, still calling my name. I guess I was safe for now.
Smells in the house floated into the bedroom. Except for a tiny bit of leftover eggs and bacon, I hadn't had any breakfast. My tummy growled. How could I get to my food bowl with those short, grabby little people in there? I had to have something to eat. The smells coming from the kitchen were wonderful. They made my mouth water. I had to get to my food bowl.
I had seen danger before. I had been attacked by a mean rooster when I was a baby. I had looked eye to eye with a
rat. I would have to face the â¦
ravely I stepped out from under the bed. Taking a deep breath, I held it and listened for any sound of danger. Inch at a time, I crept to the door. The Grandkids were here, somewhere. I stayed close to the wall until I got to the living room. If I was careful, I could hide behind the furniture until I reached the kitchen. That's where my food bowl was. Just thinking about it made my tummy rumble.
At the end of the hall I stopped. The tree was in front of me. The bright lights twinkled like little stars. Shiny balls tempted me to bat at them. The long strings dangled and wiggled like mouse tails scampering away in the hay field.
The people were all at the table. My head tilted to the side and my whiskers twitched. The table
It was a lot longer than ever before. Maybe Mama watered it like her houseplants to make it grow. Now that it was big, there was room for everyone's chair. Mama and Daddy were near one end. Four other big kids were sitting with them. The Grandkids sat together at the other end of the table.
I eased behind the couch. The tree caught my attention again. The temptation was too much. I carefully tapped at the gleaming bauble in front of my eyes. It moved. I tapped it again. It bounced and jiggled at the end of the limb. I couldn't stop! Each time I batted at the beautiful things, they moved, just like when I chased mice.
“Hey, there's that kitty!”
Small feet thundered through the living room toward me. Small hands grabbed at me.
Like a shot, I scampered up the tree!
“Oh, my goodness!” Mama screamed.
The tree began to wobble. I moved higher. The tree swayed. My sharp claws dug at the wood, trying to keep my balance.
“Kay, get on the other side, and we'll get him before he knocks the whole thing over!” Daddy grabbed at the center of the tree.
Mama was not very gentle when she yanked me out of the decorated limbs. But once in her arms, she rubbed me tenderly and pulled me close to hear my purr.
“Let's put him in the playroom.”
“I don't think he has eaten today, Owen. That may be why he is being so wild. Let me get him some turkey scraps. Then he can go back to the playroom.”
Mama tucked me under one arm as she walked to the kitchen. She placed some yummy meat in my dish. Then she poured this warm brown sauce all over it. The food smelled
I wiggled, struggling to get down. Mama squeezed me tighter under her arm. She took me and my bowl into the playroom and closed the door. I didn't even try to follow her. I went straight to the yummy-smelling food. It was so good that I kept eating, even after I was full. When I finished, I washed my face and paws. A warm, happy feeling covered my whole body.
Trouble was, it didn't last long.
The door flew open. Out of nowhere, small hands picked me up. Suddenly I was on my back with my feet sticking straight up in the air. The pudgy little hands rubbed my fat tummy.
“Be careful, Kensey.” Mama warned. “Gray isn't used to children. He has sharp claws and you could get a scratch.”
The small girl turned me right-side-up and looked me straight in the eye. She rubbed behind my ears and under my chin.
Hey, this isn't so bad,
I thought. Fact was, it felt pretty good. I
closed my eyes. Maybe Grandkids weren't so horrible after all.
A noise made my eyes open. They flashed wide when I saw three more faces staring at me.
“Let me have him, Kensey. You're too little to hold the cat. Give him to me!”
“No, I like the kitty. He likes me, too! Look at him. He's happy!”
“Give me the cat! I'm the oldest. I want to hold him!”
Gentle hands suddenly turned rough. I felt tugs on my fur and skin.
“Momm â¦ eee â¦”
“Josh, leave Gray alone. If you can't play nicely with him, I'll have to put him outside. Kensey can pet him for a while, then Jenny and Katie will have time to hold him. You're the oldest and you know you have to take turns.” Mama handed me back to the little girl. She carried me into the living room and sat down on the couch.
The rest of the people came in there, too. Feeling restless and nervous with all these strangers around, I tried to wiggle away. The little girl held me tighter.
“I wanna be Santa,” the boy yelped.
“Josh, sit down and be quiet!” one of the big people said in a deep, growly voice. “You know Grampa always gets to be Santa.”
“Can I open my presents first, then?”
“Well take turns, just like always.” A woman spoke in a soft, gentle voice.
“Well, if I can't play Santa and if I can't open my presents â¦ I want to hold the kitty.”
“No! It's still my turn.”
The little girl squeezed me so tight, I thought my eyes were going to pop out.
“Joshua!” The big man with the gruff voice glared at the boy. His look reminded me of the way the Daddy looked at me when I climbed the tree. The boy sat back down and folded his arms. His bottom lip stuck out. For a moment or two everyone was quiet. Slowly, Daddy walked to the tree. He bent down and picked up one of the packages.
“Let's see. The first one is for â¦” All the people seem to straighten and suck in a deep breath. They held it while he peeked inside a little piece of paper on top of the package. “Well, I'll be,” he said finally. “It's for Joshua.”
The little boy bounced up and down on the couch when Daddy handed him the package. Then Daddy took another and another from under the tree and handed them to the people in the room. The little girl, who was holding me and giving me a nice rub, didn't take her package. So Daddy put it down beside her.
When everyone had a package, Daddy stood in
the middle of the room. He looked all around and took a deep breath.
“Okay,” he said. There was almost a laugh in his voice. “Ready. Set. Go!”
I never heard such a commotion in my life!
All of a sudden there was a tearing, ripping sound. Papers and ribbons flew from the presents. The girl released me. There was more ripping and tearing and talking and laughing. Bright paper fluttered to the floor and ribbons flew. It was like a roar. Before I could make it off the couch and run, another set of hands grabbed me.