The little kitten was scared as he felt himself carried from place to place. Each time he felt the red velvet sack stop jostling around, he warily approached the opening. He stuck his little nose out and sniffed the air as he felt the sack come to rest. The air always smelled different and strange. It never smelled of his own home or of his brother and sister whom he so desperately wanted to find. The little kitten grew more and more terrified, and as he did so, he moved deeper and deeper into the red velvet sack.
Soon the sack was no longer being carried around. The little kitten could still feel the sack moving, but he knew it wasn’t just the sack that was moving but whatever the sack was laying on was also moving. It felt just like riding in his cat carrier when he and his brother and sister were taken to the stabby place for checkups and shots. The little kitten worried about his brother and sister, then he began to worry about the Female of the House and his mother; they would not what happened to him.
“I am such a foolish kitten.” the little kitten said to himself, “If I had just done what my mother had told me, I wouldn’t have caused so many problems.”
The little kitten placed his fuzzy brown head onto his fuzzy brown paws with their white mitts. He fretted briefly before he slipped off into a deep dream filled sleep.
The red velvet sack was suddenly lifted and the little kitten was rousted from his sleep. He clamped onto the sack with his tiny claws as the sack swung backwards and forwards. The sack then dropped slightly and then started swinging again. The little kitten perked his eyes as he thought he could hear many voices outside of the red velvet sack. There was one large booming voice biut the others were higher and softer.
“Are you sure the sack is empty, Santa?” The little kitten heard one of the high soft voices ask.
“Of course, I’m sure.” Santa replied. “All gifts and deliveries accounted for. I have done this before, you know.”
“Well it sure feels like there is something in here.” the high soft voice stated.
The little kitten tensed as the opening of the red velvet sack was stretched by a small pair of hands. The little kitten tried to hide, but there was nothing left in the sack to hide behind. The little kitten blinked his eyes and adjusted the to the soft flickering light that shone into the sack and exposed his presence. The little kitten found himself staring up at two faces, one anciently young elfin face with bright green eyes and ears that came to a sculpted tip and the other a wrinkled human face covered in a thick grey beard and moustache with blue eyes that twinkled with mischief and laughter.
“What do we have here?” Santa asked as he peered over the edge of his red velvet toy sack.
“It appears you have a stowaway, Santa.” The elf replied. “A kitten has found its way into your bag.”
“I don’t remember seeing any kittens near my bag at any of the houses.” Santa said thoughtfully.
“So what do we do?” The elf asked.
“I don’t know which house he came from so I couldn't even begin to think of where to return the little guy.” Santa said. “Even if I could, there is no time left to get him back before Christmas morning is here.”
Santa looked down at the little kitten.
“Do you know where your home is?” Santa asked.
“I live in the house with the stone fireplace and the wicker cat bed with the fluffy red pillow.” The little kitten replied.
“Wicker cat bed and fluffy red pillow?” Santa thought “Stone Fireplace? It sounds so very familiar, but I can’t remember if it was on the East Coast or West Coast. It might have even been in the Midwest.”
“So you really have no idea.” The elf stated.
“Not really.” Santa smiled.
“Wait.” The little kitten interrupted the elf and Santa’s discussion. “You can hear me?”
“Of course, I can.” Santa chuckled. “Otherwise, how would I be able to tell Dancer to lay off the broccoli before the big night. It gives him the worst gas. Actually everyone here at the North Pole can understand all animals.”
“Except for the sloths.” The elf corrected. “No one can really understand them.They talk very slowly and mumble a lot when they speak. We just smile and nod our heads when we have to talk to them.”
The kitten look at Santa and the elf with a very confused look on his tiny face.
“Oh, where are my manners.” The elf scolded himself. “Samuel Sleighmaster is my name, but everyone calls me Sammy. You are pretty young. Do you even have a name yet.”
The little kitten tried to think what the Female of the House or his Mother called him. His mother was still calling him Little One or My Son; she not yet given him his True Name yet. The Female of the house was still calling him and his siblings, the Kittens.
“No.” the kitten replied sadly. “I don’t have a name yet.”
“Then I shall have the privilege of giving you a name.” Sammy looked at the kitten. “I know. I will call you Jingles. Since you arrived on a sleigh pulled by nine reindeer covered with bells.”
“Jingles.” The kitten thought about the name. “I like it. Jingles. Jingles.”
“Now we have to find you a place to stay.” Sammy said.
“He isn’t staying in the stable.” Dasher, one of the reindeer, spoke up. “I have enough problem sleeping with Dancer next door to me. The last thing I need is a kitten running around and playing to the wee hours of the night.”
“Hey.” Dancer piped up. “Its not my fault that broccoli doesn’t digest properly. Besides, if they hadn’t made it taste so good, I probably wouldn’t be so tempted.”
“I wasn’t going to stick Jingles in the stable anyways.” Sammy replied. “The rest of you aren’t that pleasant smelling either. Who could we set you up with? I know. Follow Me.”
“Goodbye reindeer.” Jingles said as he followed Sammy towards a row of small houses across the courtyard from the stables.
“Goodbye, Jingles.” Dancer replied and then turned to the other reindeer. “He seems like a nice kitten. I wonder if he has ever tried broccoli.”
“No more broccoli!” The other reindeer all cried out at once.
Sammy Sleigh the Elf led Jingles to a small house that had a small square sign hanging from the wall next to the doorway. It was a picture of a bolt of cloth with a spool of thread and a needle and scissors crossed over each other. Sammy knocked on the door.
“Taylor.” Sammy knocked on the door again, ”Taylor Tailorson are you home?”
“Who is it?” a voice responded from inside. “This better be good. I’m not scheduled to start repairing the upholstery on the sleigh until tomorrow morning.”
“It’s Sammy Sleighmaster.” Sammy stated. “I have someone here who needs your help.”
“It couldn’t wait until morning?” Taylor Tailorson asked as he open the door to his tailoring and upholstery shop.
“Not really.” Sammy said as he motioned towards Jingles. “Santa had an unexpected guest on the ride home. I was hoping you could take him in until we can find a place for him.”
“Kittens.” Taylor Tailorson snorted. “You don’t like playing with yarn do you?”
“Uhh.” Jingles was not sure what to say. “No sir. I don’t really care about yarn that much.”
“Balderdash.” Tailor snapped. “All kittens love yarn. Never saw one that didn’t. Good thing you brought him here. First things first. We will need to teach him how to play with yarn. No knitting needles mind you; just a big ball of yarn That’s the ticket.”
Sammy smiled and kneeled down next to Jingles.
“I think you will be fine here.” Sammy said. “If you ever need anything, come by the Sleighworks that’s where I am most of the year.”
“Year?” Jingles was confused.
“Oh, I’m sorry.” Sammy apologized. “I thought you understood. We won’t be able to try and find your home until next Christmas which is a whole year away.’
Jingle sat down on his haunches in the snow. First, he lost his brother and sister and now he had lost the only home he ever knew. Jingles was not so sure that this Christmas thing was all that great of an idea.
“Don’t worry about it, Jingles.” Sammy said. “Santa will figure out where your home is and before you know it, you will be back in front of your fireplace with the wicker cat bed and the fluffy red pillow.”
Jingles grew to love living with Taylor Tailorson, who true to his word taught Jingles the joy in playing with a ball of yarn. Soon he knew all the elves that helped Santa produce all the toys that were given out every Christmas on Santa’s yearly trip. Jingles even made friends with the reindeer and learned to avoid Dancer once he got into the broccoli.
Jingles split his time between Taylor’s shop, Santa's office and the great fireplace in the main hall. He would spend many hours gazing into the fire thinking about his brother and sister and about his mother. One night during the spring, Taylor noticed Jingles was being very quiet. He asked Jingles why he was so melancholy. Jingles told him about his brother and sister.
“Why don’t you check Santa’s List?” Taylor said. “They should be in there on either the Naughty or Nice scrolls.”
“Cats are on Santa’s List?” Jingles asked in disbelief.
“Of course they are.” Taylor replied. “You have to go past the children section to the pets and animals section. I would probably recommend checking the Naughty List first. I’m not sure why, but seems that most of the cats are on that scroll.”
Jingles went to Santa’s office the very next morning. Following Taylor’s advice, Jingles scoured the Naughty list. There were all the names of the young boys and girls would had done something to get their names onto the Naughty List. Jingles looked down the list until he came to the section that was marked “CATS”.
Jingles read off several of the names. None seemed familiar to him. He kept reading and reading and reading.
“Baci, Bella, Buddah…Dolce, Dragonheart...Huggy Bear…Jasper, Josie...Magoo, Max, Miles Meezer, Millie…” Jingles recited each of the names he saw and hoped that one would spring out at him. “Pandora, Puff, Pumpkin…Sammy Meezer (with an asterisk)...Zeus,Zippy,Zoe.”
By the time Jingles reached the end of the Cat Section of Naughty List, he had not recognized a single name on the list. He then remembered to check the Nice List. Jingles quickly found the “CATS” section. There was only one sentence in that section; it read “You’ve got to be kidding!” There were no cat’s names on the Nice List. Jingles was heartbroken. His one chance to find his brother and sister was dashed because he did not know what their names were. Jingles sat and stared at the two scrolls on Santa’s desk.
The more Jingles looked at the Naughty and Nice scrolls the more they began to bother him. His tail began to twitch angrily from side to side. Why are all the cats on the Naughty List and not a single one on the Nice List. Jingles thought maybe there was some mistake. He looked at the section marked “DOGS” on the Naughty List. Sure enough, there many names listed. Some even had asterisks next to them like some of the cats. Jingles turned his attention to the “DOGS” section of the Nice List. Jingles expected it to be empty just like the “CATS” section. He could not believe what he saw written on the scroll; there were dog names recorded on the Nice List. Not just one or two dog names but several hundred. Jingles was shocked.
“I don’t think this can be right.” Jingles was indignant. “How can there be Dogs on the Nice List but not even a single cat? Santa must have made a mistake. I will get to the bottom of this and get it corrected before next Christmas.”
To be continued tomorrow...