It was 7am, Christmas day. Susan had broken from her daily mid day lay in to celebrate with a particularly unamused and underwhelmed Jeff. They sat opposite one another in front of an unimpressive tree with a collection of small gifts scattered underneath, most of which were addressed to Jeff “with love from Mum”.
As a cat, the only thing that interested Jeff about Christmas was the prospect of empty boxes and discarded twine, he was oblivious to the concept of gratitude and found Susan’s uncharacteristic enthusiasm disconcerting. What were all these objects? Why was she so happy about them? As he was contemplating the meaning of it all, a small object landed beside his paws, he recoiled gently and sniffed it, he looked up and blinked at Susan who implored him to “open it”. Open what? Usually when objects contain other, smaller objects there’s usually a hole or a lid that one can open and, usually, climb inside to investigate and/or fall asleep. This object had neither, he was unconvinced that it was worth playing with and concluded that, whatever it was, it was a waste of time. Much to Susan’s disappointment, he batted it away (she’d readied her iPhone in order to record a viral video of her cat going mental at a present intending to post it on the internet under the heading “when your cat loves Christmas as much as you”) and looked at the ornaments dangling from the tree.
For Susan, excitement was hard to come by but Christmas was one such time where she actually wanted to smile rather than being forced into it by institutionalised politeness and social conformity. Susan only tended to get excited when global phenomena occur such as the time she queued at midnight for the last Harry Potter and Twilight books and the subsequent films (all of them) or the time she sat at the back of a cinema theatre masturbating to Fifty Shades of Grey, wishing that there was a Christian Grey out there who would treat her as badly as she treated herself.
The irony of Susan enjoying a film entitled Fifty Shades of Grey was not lost on those who knew her best as they would often comment that it could also be a short film based on her greatest achievements.
In her mind however, in terms of pure excitement, Christmas ranked in between Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay part one. Not as exciting as a miniature, shortsighted magic boy but slightly more so than a rebellious, female archer using the scouting salute to advertise betting odds.
Christmas was also the time where she felt compelled to spoil Jeff, after all, it was the only time of year where being seen to treat a pet as if it were a baby was less frowned upon. She enjoyed walking around Poundland picking up all sorts of weird, plastic junk infused with catnip and other potentially harmful chemicals thinking about how Jeff would go nuts and not about how little she really knew her own cat.
On the slow days at work (everyday) she would wonder why her parents hadn’t invited her over on Christmas day, no doubt her sister would be there with her kids; she didn’t realise that they planned to invite her every year until they realised that the chances of Susan spending every waking minute of the day talking about herself or Jeff were so high, it endangered Christmas itself. So they just did as they always did, they sent her a Primark gift voucher worth £10 and a card that ended with “from Mum and Dad”. Susan never seemed to notice that the ‘love’ was absent.
Jeff continued to stare intently at the tree decorations. Now they were exciting. All of the glittery, shiny hanging objects from the brightly lit tree. He began to imagine how he might gather them all up at once and lay on them like a dragon on a bed of gold. He explored every avenue in his mind trying to come up with a way to collect them without disturbing Susan, he might stealthily grab them, one by one, but where would he store them? The only solution he came to was to just jump into the tree and grab as many as he could as quickly as he could. There was nothing for it. As Susan leant over and picked up another gift, Jeff leapt into the tree, knocking it over onto her head. He swiped furiously at anything with glitter until Susan emerged from underneath it shouting and swearing, Jeff gathered what he could and ran off, leaving tinsel and destruction in his wake. Susan looked at the tree, it wasn’t damaged and Jeff hadn’t taken too many ornaments, it was definitely salvageable. All she had to do was pick it up and put it back on the stand but, rather than put the effort into restoring the tree she decided that Christmas was ruined. She jumped into a nearby beanbag and fell asleep.
Jeff spent the rest of the day in a shoe box chewing on a fluffy reindeer.