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For comfort - a Christmas story, by Steve Jordan

Dec 11, 2014
The cat didn’t know what all the fuss was about. It never did. It happened just the same every year at this time. Humans! Pah! They have no idea.

It seemed odd to her that humans, who in some ways seems quite intelligent creatures, did not get it.  Every year they would do the same.  They turn their houses into some kind of playground with baubles dangling from trees (fun to play with but serving no obvious purpose otherwise) and gaudy decorations that usually cause arguments when they are being put up.  Two weeks later they all come down again.

Normal life seems to be put on hold as everyone is caught up in a frenzy of eating, drinking and pretending to be jolly. On one particular day, in the middle of the frenzy, they give each other gifts that they usually can’t afford and that nobody really wants.  The children play along because it seems to make their parents happy but most of the toys are either broken or forgotten before the day’s out. “They always give me a thing that they think looks like a mouse for me to play with,” said the cat. “I go along with it because it’s easier that way, but I’m telling you now, it’s nothing like a real mouse.”

Then there’s the dog.  Now, contrary to popular opinion, the dog is not stupid.  It is blessed with clear sight, sharp hearing and wonderful sense of smell.  It understands. The trouble is, just as with all dogs, it has absolutely no memory.  Every year it’s as if it’s the first time.  As soon as the colours start it yaps about and the cat says: “It’s just the energy.  It’s the same as last year.  Remember?” But no chance.  It gazes skyward, dribbling usually, in absolute wonder.  Next year it will be the same old routine.

The problem is one of cause and effect.  The humans seem to think that they buy gifts for each other and eat too much to make themselves happy.  But they don’t know what the cat knows.  Any cat will tell you, it’s just not that way around. It’s the energy that creates fear.  It’s the fear that drives people together for comfort.  It’s the comfort that makes them happy.  The gifts are just the humans’ way of making sense of it all.

“I don’t know where the energy comes from,” said the cat.  “I’m just a cat after all.  But I can see it, that’s for sure.”  And so could the dog.  Some say that monkeys can too.  But humans?  Nah! It comes as lights, flashing, fading in and out, blue, green, red, orange, every colour you can imagine.  Humans can’t see it, but they feel it all right.  It’s what they call, for some reason, Christmas spirit. It’s a bit scary, so they gather all their families around them for safety. Though they don’t even know they are frightened. Maybe it’s just the universe telling us all, dogs, cats, monkeys and all living things, even humans, that they need to hold each other close, just for a while, if only once a year.

The funny thing is that humans can see the energy sometimes too.  Occasionally, right up in the north, where days last for months, they can see it. Maybe that’s why they think there’s a strange old chap in a red cloak who lives there making toys all year.  Odd, these humans.  Always think that everything they don’t understand has to look like them. Sweet really!

The cat is bored already.  It’s not even looking forward to the mouse thing.  The dog? It can’t remember what happened last year but it just hopes that it involves food, tennis balls and walks.  Nothing else matters. 

The humans, they are panicking as usual.  It’s just the energy making them fretful.  They don’t know why, they just do it.  But it will be alright in the end.  The families will get together.  They will hug, wish themselves merry, eat, drink and, before long, the energy will fade.  They should then be fine until next year.

The cat, meanwhile, looks on.  All seeing.  All knowing.  Well, most things anyway.  It knows what happens, but it doesn’t know why and it doesn’t know why it is always at the same time each year.  What it does know though, is that the ‘why’ question is not for it to answer.  It is a question that should remain.  Some things not even cats are supposed to understand. 

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