Making a List for Christmas

Raymond Hazelwitz, rodent activist, Carlyle, Rumsfeld and I had returned from our night out for dinner at the dumpster. This night, the leftovers were particular good, with savory meat, fish and a wonderful assortment of stale bread which Raymond really enjoyed. "The menu is really good during holiday seasons," remarked Raymond who had taken a slice of bread with him. Carlyle had strapped it to the rat's back with some red ribbon he had borrowed from a decorated Chistmas tree. Raymond looked quite festive. His green jacket contrasted nicely with the ribbon.
We decided we would all return to my house and watch a little television. My persons had gone to the movie house and wouldn't return until late. Helen, my housemate greeted us at the back door. "I made some tuna patties for you boys," she meowed.
"We just had dinner at the dumpster," replied Clarence, looking somewhat sheepish (if a cat can indeed, look sheepish).
Helen snarled at us. "I've worked the fur off my paws, preparing these patties and now you tell me you've already had dinner. That is so like you tom cats! Really!"
Rumfeld stepped forward. "Well, we guys just sort of decided to have dinner out tonight, being it is the holiday season and usually there is great stuff served and the leftovers end up in the dumpster. So we all sorta decided to sneak off and treat ourselves...."
Helen glared at him. "I don't recall any of you big strapping toms asking us queens to join you!" she snarled.
Clarence shook his head. "The dumpster is no place for queens, Helen. There's no back room or even a litter box for the ladies."
This did not go over well with Helen who then turned tail and marched into the living room. We followed cautiously. There in the middle of the room sat Penelope, Stella, Hillary and Eloise. An assortment of catalogs were in a pile within the circle of queens. And on the border of that feline circle sat Ashley the dog! She was pawing through a catalog of home improvement tools. Her eyes glistened at the products which were shown on each page. "I want this riding lawn mower!" she barked. "I've just got to have it!"
Raymond stood up on his hind feet and tapped Ashley on the ear. "Ashley!" he chattered, "there is no way you will be able to have lawn mower of your very own. No one will buy it for you. When you feel there is a need for a riding lawn mower, you will just have to borrow one from a neignbor."
Ashley growled. "I need a mower with a big seat and a lot of space on the body so my friends can ride along with me. I want them to feel the wind against their ears and whiskers! I want them to share in the bliss of careening along the highways and byways of life!"
"Look dog!" answered Raymond. "A dog cannot careen along the highways and byways of anywhere! Settle for a good run in the dog park."
Ashley began to whine. "No one loves me. No one cares about me. I'm going to run away from home because no one will buy me a riding lawn mower."
"There's the door," said Sidney. "Don't slam it as you leave."
"That was very unkind," I meowed. "Ashley is just a dog and doesn't understand things like a cat does. Now our little Stella here knows very well that she will not get any of those things which she has put on her list."
"You bad cat, Henri!" snarled Stella. "I want a new pink bathrobe and knee high boots like these," she meowed pointing a page in a catalog.
Helen, my housemate shook her head. "Stella dear, no company makes bathrobes for cats and knee high boots for cats or anything else for cats other than litter pans. Cats don't need bathrobes. We don't take baths and we really don't have boots because we don't really have knees either."
Stella began to meow loudly. "Puss and Boots has boots! He was wearing them when he was on the television! So they do make boots for cats!"
"Boy are you dumb, Stella," hissed Sidney. "That was a cartoon cat, not a real cat!" Stella wailed loudly and ran to the bedroom. I could here her cries from the living room and I felt badly for the little cat who was learning as all young creatures do, that what one wants in life is not always what one gets in life.
Raymond looked at me. "Things are not going well, Pussycat. We have an unhappy dog and an unhappy young cat. Forthwith, I shall summon my trusty scouts to come to your aid and salve the wounded citizens of this household. Behold! I shall go forth into the night to pursue my quest!" Helen opened the front door. Raymond, a twig of holly held aloft, marched into the night. Carlyle, Rumsfeld and I hummed (yes, cats can hum sort of) an appropriate song of praise and valor.
As we waited for Raymond's return, Stella was loudly sulking in the bedroom. Oh, how that cat could meow! Nothing seemed to comfort that poor, young kitty. Even Sidney began to feel sorry for little Stella. He brought her his favorite catnip toy. He meowed a lullaby. He smoothed her whiskers. Nothing would restore her cheerful demeaner. She continued to cry her hurt and dispair. "There is no Santa Cat," she moaned.
It seemed as if hours had passed before we heard the sqeaks of the Raymond's rat scouts. Before they had a chance to scratch, Carlyle and I had pulled the heavy front door open. On the sidewalk, near the steps, was a red wagon with about twenty-five rat scouts sitting in it. All of them were wearing little red Santa hats. They grinned up at us, showing about twenty-five pair of glistening white front teeth! "This is the scoop!" announced Raymond. "We are going to take a sleigh ride around the neighborhood. And Ashley will be the head reindeer leading the sleigh!"
"Where's the sleigh?" meowed Rumsfeld. "I don't see no sleigh!"
Raymond grinned and pointed at the red wagon. "This dear friend, is the sleigh. It just happens to have wheels instead of runners."
When Ashley heard her name she had rushed to the front door. "Did someone bring me a new lawn mower for Christmas?" she barked excitedly. "Where is it?" she demanded as she ran down the steps to the sidewalk.
"It's not quite a lawn mower, Ashley," explained Raymond. "It's a red wagon with wheels that are guarenteed not to fall off. You will be Santa dog's head reindeer in our historic trek through the neighborhood. The rat elves have made a harness for you to wear so you can pull the wagon behind you, which will be laden with Stella and other cats, such as Rumsfeld, Penelope, Henri, Carlyle, Helen, Hillary and any other creature who cares to join us tonight. Behind our vehicle, twenty or more rats will follow, chattering Christmas carols for your listening pleasure."
Well it sounded good to me. I dragged a wailing Stella from the bed and pushed her out the front door. She was still crying when Carlyle lifted her into the wagon. Ashley was delighted with her new harness and stood patiently as the rat scouts hitched her to the wagon. At that moment, Stella stopped crying and we all piled into the vehicle which would take us through the neighborhood, stopping at every house which was decorated for the season. The night was calm. Bright lights gleamed through the darkness. The sleigh lurched forward. Ashley began to prance as Raymond, who held the reins, led the dog and the attached wagon out toward the street.
It was magic that night. The stars above us shown as brightly as the lights which hung from rooftops, trees and the wire reindeer which decorated lawns. Fortunately, I had brought my camera and took a few photographs along the way.

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Years ago human women were not allowed in the front room of a bar and grill but were required to sit and be served in the "back room".