A Jewish Cat’s Lament at Christmas


“I would like to register a complaint.” My cat stomped across the couch, turned around twice, sat on my lap, and looked at me scornfully.

“And what is it this time?”

Athena scowled. “Where’s the tree?”

“What tree?”

She looked around the room. “The Christmas tree. You know. Tall thing. Green. Has branches. All the other cats have one.”

“We don’t celebrate Christmas; we’re Jewish.”

Athena squinted her eyes and flattened her ears like an owl. “That’s not fair.”

“What’s not fair? What do you need a Christmas tree for anyway?”

Athena is displeased.
Athena is displeased. (Photo by Susan C. Willett)

Athena sighed. “First of all, it’s a tree. I could climb it, all the way to the top.”

“You wouldn’t make it that far, Athena. It would topple from your weight.”

“Are you implying I’m fat?”


She scratched her ear thoughtfully. “I’d help you decorate it. I could assist with those lovely strings of lights.”

“Oh, I bet you’d be a help.”

“And I could test all the ornaments to make sure they’re securely fastened to the tree.” She paused. “And that’s not all.” Athena’s tail began to twitch. “I could help you wrap presents.”

Her eyes glowed as she imagined stomping through wrapping paper, swatting at ribbons and hiding in boxes. “Then you’d put them under the tree for me to enjoy.”

“Did you mean ‘enjoy’ or ‘destroy’ in that last sentence?”

Athena ignored me, though this was not surprising as she is a professional ignorer. She continued, “I’d even leave you a present.”

“I can only imagine such a gift,” I said, mentally ticking off the first three that came to mind: poop, barf, dead mouse. Wait, I forgot hairball. That’s four.

Athena was on a roll. “I’m missing out on so much Christmas fun. There are wires to chew on. And that smarmy little elf that’s always hiding from everyone: I’d find that dude and knock him right off that shelf onto his smug little — ”

“That’s enough, Athena,” I said, breaking into her tirade. I picked her up and put her on the floor. “The sun is setting. It’s time to light to the Hanukkah candles and put the electric menorah in the window.”

“You mean there’s wires? And flame?”

Athena in the glow of an electric menorah.
Athena in the glow of an electric menorah.

“Yes,” I said, and then noticed a gleam in her eyes. “Stay away from the candles!” I grabbed the nearest dreidel, set it on the coffee table, and gave it a spin.

It spins!
Athena watches the dreidel spin.

The cat jumped up to get a closer look. “That. Is the coolest. Thing,” she said, mesmerized by the spinning, swaying top. Athena stretched out her paw, extended a claw, and knocked the dreidel off its axis, toppling it with a clatter.

Athena sniffed the now-immobile top. She looked at me. “Do it again!”

Cat happiness: playing with a dreidel.
Cat happiness: playing with a dreidel.

I set it a-spin. Again. And again. And again. Athena watched and swatted and chased that dreidel as it spun its way across the table, sometimes continuing on the floor. Again. And again. And again.

My cat was happy — a Hanukkah miracle.

Read more by Susan C. Willett:

About the author: Susan C. Willett is a writer, photographer, and blogger whose award-winning original stories, photography, poetry, and humor can be found at Life With Dogs and Cats. She lives in New Jersey with four cats (including Calvin T. Katz, the Most Interesting Cat in the World) and three dogs (all rescues) and at least a couple of humans — all of whom provide inspiration for her work. Refusing to take sides in the interweb’s dogs vs. cats debate, Susan enjoys observing the interspecies interaction among the varied inhabitants of her home — like living in a reality TV show, only furrier. In addition to Life With Dogs and Cats, you can find more Dawn, Athena, Calvin and Elsa Clair (and the rest of the gang) on Haiku by Dog™, Haiku by Cat™, and Dogs and Cats Texting.

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