Beep beep beep, went the alarm clock and everybody moaned. Well, almost everybody. As usual Yehudi’s voice was absent. I fought against the bright sunlight that was filtering in through the blinds to survey the room to make sure that all is as it should be.
Daddy hugging the left side of the bed, conforming to the ten inches of bed space he is alotted. Well, almost conforming, after all, his tummy was hanging over the edge of the bed, but I will allow it because technically it is not taking up space in the sleeping area. Check!
Mommy was snug and curled up on the right side of the bed, drool running down her cheek. Perfect!
Rapi, the big ginger cat was stretched out between their pillows, his butt in Mommy’s face. Excellent!
Bella, the attention seeking grey cat, was smack dab in the middle curled up into Mommy’s arms. Sickening, but as should be.
Cindee, the big brown dog with floppy ears, hey wait, that is me, anyway, I was in a ball between Mommy and Daddy’s feet. This has been my place for eight years. Lastly Yehudi.
Oh my gosh, poor Yehudi doesn’t have a place in the bed. Curious and feeling sorry I spring from the mattress and land with a bound. My day has begun, and I am off to find the little black and white cat.
I tip toe through the house trying not to disturb anyone even though the alarm has gone off. That too is par for the course in the house. It’s Saturday morning, and Daddy has set the alarm because he doesn’t want to lose any of his precious time away from work sleeping, yet he has already shut the alarm off and drifted off for another hour or so of slumber. My parents sure are strange right?
Anyway, I sneak across the hallway and peek into Mommy’s office, but there is no cat in there. Using my swift sense of deduction, I conclude that she must be on the first floor.
The stairs creak and groan, complaining that I need to go on a diet. I come to a halt halfway down and poke my head between the wooden spindles on the staircase so I can look down at the living room below me.
My heart flutters then breaks and I am unable to stop myself.
“Awwwww,” the words escape when I take in the sight of the little black and white cat curled up into a tight ball, shivering all alone in the corner of the sofa.
“Poor thing,” I whisper trying not to disturb her, but her little head pops up and she looks over at me with blood shot eyes.
“Morning Cindee,” she says hoarsely.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to disturb you,” I apologize while nimbly descending the remaining steps.
“It’s okay,” the little cat reassures me.
I grab the thick plaid throw that is on the other end of the sofa and drag it across the room and drape it over Yehudi. I step back and watch as the young feline snuggles into the warmth of the covering and closes her eyes.
“Thanks, Cindee,” she squeaks with a smile.
“You’re welcome,” I answer back before jumping up onto the sofa and settling in on the other end where I too drift off into a deep relaxing nap.
I awake to the feeling of Mommy’s soft warm lips on my nose. This is one of my most favorite feelings in the world. It gives me the tingles all over. My eyes open and I see her and Daddy standing in front of me dressed in their coats.
“We need to go out for awhile and do some Christmas shopping,” Mommy tells me, adding another kiss.
“You be a good girlie sweetie,” Daddy adds leaning over to give me a kiss on the nose too. I can feel the smile on my face spreading, even though I am doing the best I can to look sad and depressed so they will take me with them.
“You are in charge Cindee, don’t let those cat’s get into trouble,” Daddy reminds me, as he closes the door behind him.
I look over at the throw to discover that Yehudi was still safely buried inside, where she was snoring away.
“It’s time to get this day started,” I say softly to myself with a big mid-morning stretch. But what do I do with my day?
I climb off the sofa and quietly trod into the kitchen in hopes that a cookie magically appeared on the table.
“Humpf. Nothing. Boohoo for me,” I giggled quietly.
Next, I checked the counters.
“What’s what,” a deep latin voice came from behind.
I jumped in the air and landed on all fours, my hair standing on end as I spun to confront the intruder.
“How many times do I have to tell you not to sneak up on me Rapi,” I growled at the big orange cat, who responded with a snicker.
“What’s what,” he repeated the question.
“That box,” I said pointing with my paw.
“Oh that? I don’t know,” the cat responded.
“Well, don’t just stand there, go up there and look,” exasperation oozing in my tone.
“Geez, you don’t got to get all huffy about it,” he grumbled.
“I need a little help,” he said, nodding to his tummy, which was almost brushing against the ground.
“Oh yeah, sure, no problem,” I said squatting down.
The orange cat sprang onto my back, landing as gracefully as a twenty-pound cat can. I let out an audible grunt the moment his stubby legs made impact with my spine. Though it was an involuntary reaction, I regretted the sound the moment it escaped my lips.
“You complaining about my weight now. Just remember I am doing you a favor,” he said with no effort at hiding his irritation.
I stood as quickly as I could, and a moment later he launched himself up onto the counter.
“Hey there is some cool stuff up here,” he said, his voice back to it’s normal happy go lucky tone.
“Really,” I answered back, wondering what could be up there. It was something I had always wondered about too, but right now, finding out what was in the box was more important to me.
“The box,” I remined Rapi.
“Oh yeah, sorry, I got distracted,” he apologized.
I watched as he circled the box a couple of times then stopped and looked over the side of the counter at me, his green eyes wide with excitement.
“It’s just a gingerbread house,” he called down.
“But there is some chocolate, a thing in a small box called a panettone, which smells delicious I might add and …” his voice went on and on, but I confess I was no longer listening.
“Rapi, come on down, I have an idea,” I barked softly so as not to disturb Yehudi.
I watched Rapi fly gracefully through the air as he dismounted from the counter, but all illusion of gracefulness disappeared at the loud thud he made when he landed on all fours.
“Quick grab Bella and be quiet. I really need both of you to help me with this. It is important,” I added with urgency.
The cat could sense how important this was to me, so without hesitation he turned and bolted upstairs to do what I had asked.
“Meet me under the Christmas tree,” I called after him.
He glanced over his shoulder and winked at me before disappearing out of sight.
I was sitting next to the tree diligently working on tearing the box open when Rapi and Bella came scampering down the staircase, each wearing an expression of excitement.
“What is it? What’s the plan,” Bella purred loudly having made the journey across the livingroom and now standing next to me her eyes fixed on mine.
“Quiet, remember,” Rapi grumbled, coming up behind his grey and white sister.
I eyed them both with an annoyed look on my face, which they immediately picked up on. They each found a place to sit, Rapi looking hurt, and Bella sniffing back tears.
“It’s a surprise,” I whispered, using my paw to indicate Yehudi, who was still sound asleep under the blanket.
“With a gingerbread house,” Rapi asked staring at the box.
“I’m confused,” Bella said, screwing up her face.
“You’ll see,” I said, offering a reassuring smile to let them know I wasn’t losing my marbles.
They looked at each other and shrugged. The gesture was enough to give me hope that their initial excitement would give them the necessary patience to see the project through to completion.
“Hey guys, can you give me a hand opening the box,” I asked.
The cats nodded enthusiastically and immediately immersed themselves in the task, tearing off little pieces of cardboard here and there.
“Don’t forget to be careful, we may need the instructions,” I gently reminded them.
“You got it,” the orange cat purred.
I looked on for a few moments to make sure they were okay, before setting off on my next task, which would take me upstairs to Mommy’s office.
I was dragging the small extra cat bed down the stairs when I noticed that the cats had finished with the box and were laying under the tree staring up at the lights.
“All the sparkly colors are so beautiful,” Rapi said, marveling at the bulbs as they flashed on and off.
“I like how the lights reflect off the balls,” Bella said with happy sigh.
It was unusual to see these two sharing their feeling with each other, and I felt bad that I was about to interrupt this wonderful moment.
“Ready guys,” I asked in a low voice.
Rapi jumped to his feet, started by my sudden arrival.
“What’s with that thing,” Bella asked, pointing to the bed that I had brought from downstairs.
“You’ll see,” I said with a sly smile.
“Okay, let’s get this house built,” I added redirecting our attention to the open box.
I glanced at the directions, while Rapi and Bella stared on, impatiently waiting for their next assignment.
“You guys wanna get that big one in place,” I asked pointing to one of the two large slabs of gingerbread.
They nodded and set to work, pushing it out of the box and into place while I re-read the instructions. They seemed simple enough.
“Done Cindee,” Bella reported using her best hushed voice.
“Great, now we need to put some icing on, like this,” I said, pulling one of the tubs of frosting from the pile of contents that had been neatly packed into the box, but were now spread out under the Christmas tree.
“I will line it up and you guys step on it gently until is covers the edge,” I instructed them.
I would move the tube a little at a time, while they would take turns stepping on it until we had all four edges of the base covered in icing. Once we had finished with that task, we all stood around high fiving, proud of our accomplishment.
“Now what?” Rapi asked.
“Hmmm, lets see,” I said taking another look at the directions.
“It says we need to take these pieces and place them against the floor with the icing on it … oh, I see, they are the walls,” i added with a giggle.
Rapi and Bella looked at each other and smiled widely.
I placed the bed on the base and then together the three of us picked up one of the walls and maneuvered it into place.
“Okay Bella, you need to stay on the inside and hold it up, and Rapi, you need to do the same thing on the outside,” I told them.
“For how long,” Bella asked.
“The directions say for a few minutes.”
“We can do that,” Rapi replied.
“We can,” Bella added enthusiastically.
“Good. While you are doing that, I will chew open the door,” I said, thinking a step ahead.
“Good idea,” Bella agreed.
“But don’t eat any of it, because it will make you sick,” Rapi reminded me.
I took a big bite out of the panel where the door was marked on it. I quickly ran to the kitchen and spit it into the garbage, then trotted back with my tongue hanging out.
“What’s wrong Cindee,” Rapi asked.
“It tastes nasty,” I said still making a face and wishing the taste would leave my mouth, while that cats just chuckled at my misfortune.
I watched Rapi as he placed the last gumdrop on the house, then we all took a few steps back to admire our handiwork.
“It’s beautiful,” Bella said, her lips curling into a smile.
“It is beautiful,” Rapi agreed.
I was speechless. I couldn’t believe that the three of us could make something so exquisite. It was a house made from gingerbread, just like the box had said it would be. Somehow, we had managed to line everything up perfectly.
“Wow,” a hoarse little voice squeaked from behind us.
We all turned to find Yehudi poking her head out from under the covers, her eyes all lit up and her smile, well her smile was perfect. We watched her as her eyes scanned the gingerbread house.
The roof was covered in frosting to make it look like fresh snow. That had been difficult to do because I had to have Rapi standing on my back again while he scattered glittering silver sugar all over the freshly laid icing to make it sparkle.
Rapi had decorated the side with pretty red gumdrops, and Bella had made a gingerbread cookie in the shape of tree, which she covered in green frosting, then decorated with little sugar balls.
Just looking at Yehudi, well, all I can say is it made my tummy flutter and my heart go pitter patter. I loved it!
“What is that,” Yehuda asked, still unable to tear her eyes from the newly formed decoration.
“It’s a gingerbread house that we build just for you,” I barked enthusiastically.
Rapi and Bella looked at each other, puzzled by my statement.
“For me,” Yehudi asked, her face almost as stunned as the other cats.
“Yes, for you! We felt bad because there is never enough room for you in the bed, so we wanted to make a special place just for you. Go on inside and see!” I howled with excitement.
“Yes go inside,” Bella urged the little black cat on now that she understood everything.
“We even put a bed inside for you,” Rapi added proudly.
The little black cat entered through the makeshift door that I had made and looked around before plopping down in the bed and using the window to peek out at us.
“I love it! Thank you all so much, I really do love it!” Yehudi went on and on.
Rapi and Bella came over and plopped down next to me so we could all watch Yehudi enjoy her new home, at least for the holidays.
“Thank you for including us,” Rapi said, looking up at me with a smile.
“Yes, thank you so much Cindee,” Bella added as she continued to watch Bella through the window opening.
“No, thank you guys. Without you, it would never have been possible,” I reminded them.
“I am lucky to have you guys for a family,” Yehudi called out.
“We are all lucky,” Rapi answered back.
“Yes, we are,” I said, before laying down and watching as Rapi and Bella regaled Yehudi with the story of how the gingerbread house was built with love.
“So very lucky,” I mumbled one last time before drifting off into dreamland, my heart filled with love and happiness.