This week’s post is by a guest blogger, my cat Boris. He invites you to share it with any human kittens you might know. And if the idea of a feline guest blogger is strange or offensive to you, I invite you to suspend your disbelief in the spirit of the season.
My name is Boris and I want to share an old, old story with you. I am a cat of the breed orange tabby house cat.
All tabbies have stripes, but not all striped cats are tabbies. We tabbies have one distinguishing feature which is found on tabbies the world over. We have the letter “M” on our foreheads. See the “M” on my forehead?
The story of how tabbies came to wear the “M” has been the subject of human debate down through the years. But cats have known the reason all along and have passed the story down to each succeeding generation so that all cats would know of our connection to the man “who made lame beggars walk and blind men see.”
Once upon a time, a long time ago, Mary and Joseph fell in love and got married. And guess what happened? They had a baby-a little boy and they named Jesus. The family lived in the little village of Nazareth where Joseph worked as a carpenter.
(I must warn you here that the in the cat’s version of this story, Baby Jesus was born before his family got to Bethlehem. There was still a Christmas Miracle at Bethlehem, but things happened a little differently in the cat’s version of the story. But I trust the cat’s story way more than the human version.)
The truth is that little Jesus was a fussy baby. He was no angel, or at least that’s what his father Joseph said. Now, Joseph and Mary loved their little fellow very much despite the fact that Jesus cried all the time. He started crying from the moment he woke up and he cried himself to sleep every night. Mary and Joseph tried to comfort their little boy, but it was not to be. There was simply no escaping it. Little Jesus was a fussy baby!
“I’m sure he’ll outgrow it,” Mary tried to reassure Joseph. But deep inside she was not so sure. “It’s probably going to take a miracle,” she told herself. “We need a miracle,” she said aloud to nobody in particular.
Baby Jesus heard her and stopped crying for a bit before resuming the wailing that had become the background to the lives of Joseph, Mary, and their immediate neighbors in the town of Nazareth. Now you might be thinking a Christmas Miracle. Maybe. Keep on reading!
One afternoon, during a rare moment of quiet (Jesus had finally fallen asleep for his afternoon nap) Joseph received a letter.
“Oy vey iz mir,” he exclaimed plopping down onto a chair clutching the letter in one hand and rubbing his eyes with the other, “Oy gevalt!”
“What’s that,” Mary asked, “a letter from your mother?”
“Worse,” Joseph replied, “it’s a decree from Caesar Augustus.”
“Caesar! What does he want with us?”
“We have to register for a census,” Joseph informed her. He handed the letter to Mary so she could read it for herself.
“They expect us to drop everything and go to Bethlehem?” she cried, “Why Bethlehem of all places, that must be 80 miles from here! Don’t they have any place closer?” Baby Jesus started to stir.
“Honey,” Joseph explained patiently (although in truth he was a little exasperated) “you knew I was descended from the house and family of David when you married me. Bethlehem is my hometown. We’ll leave in the morning. The donkey passed inspection last week so we’re in good shape for a long road trip.
Mary sat down and reread the letter
Baby Jesus woke up and resumed his relentless crying. Mary stroked his cheek with affection. “Sweet Jesus,” she said to him, “you don’t know the half of it.”
If you were to ask Mary about the trip later, she would tell you that it was no picnic to travel 80 miles on the back of a donkey with a fussy child and a husband who is more interested in making good time than his wife’s personal comfort. But I digress.
The family passed fields of shepherds watching their flocks by night. They waved to Joseph and Mary as they went by. Baby Jesus cried all the way to Bethlehem.
Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem on Christmas Eve. The tired donkey plodded to the motel where Joseph had made reservations. Mary Jesus and the donkey waited outside while Joseph went to check them in. Joseph came out frowning. “They lost our reservations,” he told Mary
“Lost our reservations!” Mary exclaimed, “what do we do now?”
“There’s a stable out back”, Joseph replied, “the clerk said we can stay there.”
Mary wasn’t happy with the situation, but at least Jesus’s crying would not disturb the other guests.
The stable wasn’t empty; however, it was home to several animals including a confused cow, a curious sheep, and a big old orange Tomcat.
There weren’t any beds in the stable for them to sleep in. Joseph was so tired that he curled up on the floor and fell asleep immediately.
Mary could not sleep because Baby Jesus started crying. He was crying because he was tired and he was cold and hungry. Mary fed him and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and put him in the manger which was lined with straw and just the size for a little baby to sleep in.
But Baby Jesus just cried and howled. The curious sheep and confused cow moved to the back of the stable to escape the noise. The old Tomcat looked down on the scene from his perch high in the stable rafters and wondered what he could do to help.
Many humans think that cats are aloof and uncaring, but this is not true. Cats can be very loving and tender to humans who bother to understand them and listen to what they are saying. And this brings me to the first Christmas miracle. The old Tomcat wanted to help so badly that he began to talk!
“Hey lady,” the Tomcat meowed. Mary looked around. “Who’s that?” she wondered. “Up here, lady, I’m up here!” Mary looked up and saw the old Tomcat. She had never heard a cat talk before and was a little apprehensive.
“Hey lady,” the Tomcat meowed, “I have comforted countless litters of crying kittens in my day. Do you want me to help your little boy get to sleep?”
“Mr Cat,” Mary replied, “with all due respect, I must be at my wits end to be answering you-I have never met a talking cat before. I would be so grateful if you could help my little boy get to sleep. It has been a long journey. Do you know a lullaby?”
“Not a human lullaby,” the Tomcat answered, “but I know a cat lullaby that has never failed to comfort a fussy kitten. Let me try to sing it to your kitten.”
The old Tomcat roused himself from his perch in the rafters and made his way down to the manger. When he reached the manger, the old Tomcat flexed his strong back legs and leapt inside. “Mama,” Jesus cried, startled. Mary jumped and almost shooed the cat out of the stable. And it’s a good thing she didn’t because then, something magical happened!
The old Tomcat started to purr. And he purred. And he purred. Baby Jesus stopped crying and tried to grab the old cat by the ears. “Kitty!” he gurgled, delighted. The old Tomcat laid down next to Jesus and continued to purr. Baby Jesus cooed and nuzzled against the old Tomcat whose low, deep purrs felt soft and warm and comforting to the little baby in the manger in a strange city so far from home. And Jesus and the Tomcat fell asleep. Mary continued to watch them until she fell asleep, too.
Mary woke up a few hours later to check on Jesus. She looked into the manger and saw the old Tomcat curled up next to Jesus with his big paws wrapped around him. Baby and cat were fast asleep.
When Baby Jesus woke up the next morning he laughed and smiled instead of his usual fussing and crying. Mary and Joseph were delighted. “This is the miracle I was praying for,” Mary exclaimed, “Thank you, thank you, Mr Cat!”
Now, you might expect that a talking cat would say, “You’re welcome.” But that old Tomcat never said another word.
Mary was so thankful that she took the old Tomcat in her arms and kissed him on his forehead. (The old Tomcat didn’t really like being picked up and he usually scratched anyone who tried, but he made an exception for Mary.) And there on the old cat’s forehead, she left an “M” for Mary. Mary was so grateful that to this day every tabby forehead is marked with an “M.” See?
And there you have the story of the first Christmas from a cat’s point of view. Not many humans know the real story, but we cats have kept the story alive for all these years. Share it with all your human kitten friends.
Have a Happy Christmas. I hope you get lots of snacks and toys to play with and have a Christmas miracle all your own.