The night before Christmas Eve, Willow and Mrs. Hatcher baked Christmas cookies. And later, after everyone was supposedly in bed, Blossom watched from her sleeping basket as Mr. H snuck into the kitchen, silently devoured five cookies, then slunk out.
Blossom had her own little secrets. She’d recently discovered how sharp claws could pry off Tupperware lids. Sitting on the kitchen counter, she chose a second container that Mr. H had not eaten from. She opened it, casting the lid aside with the smoothness of a tiger. A snowflake shaped cookie with buttercream icing all but held up its hand, begging to be licked. Which Blossom did, then flicked the naked cookie onto the floor and swiped it under the fridge. That was another secret, hiding things under the fridge. Or simply put, destroying the evidence. No one would notice the missing cookie anyway, especially after Mr. H’s cookie meow-a-thon.
However, the next morning while Blossom was eating breakfast, Willow exploded. “Dad! How could you?” She held out the container Blossom had opened. “I told you and Mom the cookies in this box were for Santa!”
“I didn’t go near that Tupperware!” Mr. H protested. He looked from Willow to Mrs. H for a simple nod but they weren’t being agreeable. So he turned to Blossom and his eyes widened like he’d just been jolted awake.
Blossom turned to her dish to avoid eye contact and further suspicion.
Later that morning, Blossom fretted as she trotted into the back yard. She should have been joyful out in the frosty air, a slight tremor underfoot thanks to voles tunneling into the earth. But this is what trampled through her thoughts:
You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I’m telling you why.
Holy cat chow, if Mr. H was on to her eating Willow’s cookie, probably Santa was as well. Trudging down to the corner where all the chain link fences came together, Blossom met up with Riley, her best feline friend forever, and Merle, the neighbor bulldog.
“On Christmas Eve we leave carrots out for Santa’s reindeer,” Riley was saying.
“We leave out mushrooms and lettuce,” said Merle.
“I screwed up,” Blossom blurted, interrupting their conversation.
“Tell us,” said Riley, nose almost to the fence.
“I ate a cookie that was meant for Santa.” Blossom hung her head, hoping her friends would say worse could have happened.
“Whoa!” Merle did a little hop. “Do you think you got on Santa’s naughty list?”
Blossom felt her ears prickle with panic.
“Don’t hang your head like that,” said Riley. “You look like you’re pouting. A big Santa no-no, if you know what I mean.”
“Maybe if you wrote him an apology letter,” said Merle.
“But I don’t know how to write.” Blossom felt hope slipping through her toes like fine litter.
“Scratch something on paper for the reindeer,” Merle suggested. “They might be able to interpret.”
That night, alone in Willow’s bedroom, Blossom puzzled over what to do and decided as her options were thin as whiskers, she’d appeal to God. “Dear God,” she bowed her head. “Thank you for my family and friends but I was wondering if you might throw a little miracle my way since it is the season of hope and presents.”
And out on the lawn there arose such a clatter.
Thinking she’d heard hoof beats, Blossom scampered to the window to check out the noise. There stood her miracle under the Hatchers’ apple tree.
Blossom pried the window open with both paws. “Chad!” she cried. “Did you run away from the mall?”
Chad, the mall reindeer, was taking a poop in the sparkling white snow. He turned to Blossom. “Hi, Blossom. Happy Holidays,” he said in a tone one might use after being told they’d be having a sparse Christmas. But no wonder, Chad had to put up day after day with the bratty mall kids petting and pinching and pulling his tail. “I’m just taking a break. That’s all.”
“If I scratched out a letter to Santa, could you interpret it for him?” Blossom said, remembering Merle’s comment about reindeer translating letters to Santa. She crossed her toes, knowing it was asking a lot.
“I don’t know how to interpret, Blossom.” Even Chad’s antlers seemed to droop. “But I could mail a letter for you. I can reach a mailbox because I’m tall.”
“Thanks, Chad. I’ll be right back.” Blossom darted into Mr. Hatcher’s office with half a plan in her brain. With her teeth, she grabbed an envelope from an opened box in one of the side cabinets. Then off to Willow’s room, up onto her dresser. Using one paw, she pulled a photo of herself that had been tucked into the mirror’s frame. Pushing the photo into the envelope, she raced into the living room and sat before the Christmas tree.
She needed to don her thinking cap. Santa would recognize Blossom from the photo but how could she prove she’d been good? She stared the tree up and down, looking for inspiration. And the answer came like an angel from Heaven. The Hatchers’ little angel, her skirt fit right over the tree’s tip-top. Little pipe cleaner arms made to look like she was praying. A round wooden head, painted face with eyes shut. And a gold halo made of wire, a halo defining the angel’s goodness. A halo in the envelope along with Blossom’s photo should get the hint of her goodness across to Santa, shouldn’t it? Blossom tipped her head, thinking. One bite with her razor sharp choppers should separate the halo from the angel’s head and ta-da!
Blossom’s heart was ticking fast. Not knowing how long Chad might wait for her, she dashed back to the window. “Hold on two more minutes, Chad.”
“No worries,” Chad replied with as much cheer as a turtle who’d lost his shell.
Blossom calculated that if she positioned herself on the top of the piano and launched herself like a rocket, she’d sail right over the tree, snag the angel and bounce off the couch on the other side. She paused for one more prayer and second miracle. Please, please God. Nice list or naughty list all hangs in the balance because of this angel.
Blossom took off, flying over the tree, feeling the angel’s silky skirt brush her toes as she passed over. The little angel tumbled to the carpet and lay there face up. Praise the Lord! Meow-elujah! Blossom hit the couch, jumped to the floor and hovered over the angel. She really, really hated to separate the sweet little ornament from her halo but as the miracles appeared to be piling up like dead flies, she figured it must be part of God’s plan. And just as Blossom put her teeth to the task, there was a tremendous swooooosh! to her side, along with a chorus of clinking sounds. She didn’t need to look to know the Christmas tree had just fallen over.
Oh well. She’d better let Chad know he was free to gallop back to the mall.
That night was Christmas Eve. Blossom sat alone in the dark while the Hatchers were off to a candlelight service at church. Willow had prepared a plate of cookies for Santa and one with carrots for his reindeer. She’d left them on the fireplace hearth. Blossom deposited a few bits of kibble near them just in case Santa owned a cat. She wasn’t expecting more than a stocking full of dog doo-doo this year for all her naughtiness, but it never hurt to try. Mrs. H hadn’t even given Blossom a time-out for all her Christmas tree bad manners and not being punished made her feel even worse.
Wallowing in kitty self-pity, Blossom was shaken by a sound from the back yard. Ching, ching, ching! Ching, ching, ching! Blossom flew to the window. There was Chad. Taking a break? Wasn’t the mall closed by now? Blossom pushed the window open. “Merry Christmas, Chad,” she meowed. “What’s up?”
“Hi, Blossom. Happy Holidays,” Chad said in his monotone voice. “Hey, I think Santa’s in the neighborhood. Go check out your Christmas tree.”
What? Check out the Christmas tree? Heart ticking like a rattlesnake, Blossom scrambled through the dark house and stopped at the living room entrance, toes glued to the floor. She pricked her ears. The house was quiet as a dead mouse. She didn’t know what to do. She didn’t want to check out the Christmas tree. What if Santa passed by her house and left nothing? Or what if Santa did stop but only left gifts for Willow? Blossom’s fur felt crawly. She was afraid to look, knowing she might be facing a whole year ahead with not even one teeny tiny toy, an everyday reminder she had been on Santa’s naughty list. There were no meows to describe that awfulness. Blossom was so overcome with dread she feared her whiskers might shrivel.
But she couldn’t keep Chad waiting so she stuck her nose around the corner. Moonlight filtering in through Mrs. H’s lace curtains cast little snowflake patterns on the walls and made the tree ornaments twinkle. The Christmas tree looked magical and its lights weren’t even on. And then Blossom spied Santa’s plate of goodies. One cookie had a bite out of it, one carrot was left and the kibble was gone! And Blossom could smell something that hadn’t been there before. Catnip. Santa had left a catnip toy! She wasn’t on the naughty list, she was on the nice list! She thought if she let out a sigh right now, it might be big enough to knock the tree over a second time. So she didn’t.
Instead Blossom leaped for joy. Oh, she’d never be bad again! Her days of springing Tupperware were over! The next time she was tempted by Tupperware, she’d remember this moment and how Santa may or may not be watching. Or God, maybe he fixed it and that was the real miracle. Who knew? Anyway, she had to tell Chad her good news!
Blossom zipped back to Willow’s bedroom, stopping at the door. The window was still ajar, cold air making the room chilly, but something slight balanced on the sill. She tore to the window and looked out. Chad was gone but sitting on the sill was a piece of paper with this upon it: