It was Christmas Eve at the Hervey Cats shelter and Marjorie had already closed things up for the night. Gary and Morris were rolling around on their backs near their favourite window while pawing at the glass. The warmth from the shelter was fogging up the windows.
“I could lay here all night!” said Gary.
“I hear that,” said Morris. “The best part is, we are cats, we can actually do that!”
Both cats laughed and continued to paw at the glass, making prints all over the fog.
“Hello, you two!” sounded a familiar voice.
Marjorie had snuck up behind Gary and Morris with a bag of treats.
“Hope you two are having a wonderful Christmas Eve,” said Marjorie. “I brought you some snacks to enjoy before bed!”
Gary and Morris immediately leapt to their feet and began rubbing against her legs. Marjorie was their favourite human.
“I love you two as well, but I have to go. I am giving snacks to all the cats in the house tonight! A Christmas Eve treat to make sure your sleep is sweet!”
Marjorie put down a plate and then sprinkled some treats onto it. Gary and Morris darted over to the dish and started wolfing down the offerings.
“That Marjorie sure knows how to entertain!” said Morris.
“Amen to that,” said Gary.
When the treats were finished, they went back to the window and stretched out on their backs, paws once more reaching toward the foggy glass.
“I’m… sleepy,” said Gary.
“And I’m Morris,” said Morris.
Gary gave Morris a slow cat wink then both of them slowly dozed off for the night.
Snow was falling just outside the window and the night was dark. The lights along the Hervey Cats property each lit a yellow circle in the snow, like lemon drops on the yard of a gingerbread house.
Suddenly there was a big vibration. Gary and Morris felt it immediately and woke up.
“What was that?” said Gary.
“Did you feel what I felt?” said Morris.
“It felt like something big happened outside,” said Gary.
“I agree,” said Morris. “Let’s go see what the humans are doing.”
The two cats made their way to Marjorie’s room and saw she was still sound asleep. Not to mention that all the other cats along the way to Marjorie’s room were also still sleeping. This confused Gary and Morris because the vibration that woke them up was not a subtle one.
The cats left Marjorie’s room and went back to their favourite window. They figured they would try to get a better look outside their foggy window, but it was now covered in paw prints and cat hair.
“To the main floor!” said Gary.
They darted down the stairs and up to the biggest window they could find – then froze.
Gary and Morris were sitting, staring out the window, with their jaws dropped. They could not believe their eyes at all. Outside the shelter, on the ground, was a giant sled, covered in a lustrous red paint job with swirling engraved gold trim, and in front of it, a team of reindeer, all harnessed together. Then they heard it.
“Ho ho ho!”
It was Santa!
“He’s back!” said Gary.
“I can’t believe it!” said Morris. “What are the odds?”
Santa had visited Gary, Morris, and their woodland friends last year when they had put up a tree in the forest.
Gary and Morris ran to their cat door and slid outside into the darkness, around the shelter and over to where the sleigh was.
The reindeer were giant creatures. They stood two abreast, and 4 rows deep, clearing their throats and grunting, each noise accompanied by a big cloud of cold foggy air and jingling bells.
The cats re-introduced themselves to the reindeer as they walked past, then jumped onto the sleigh and meowed at the big man himself. Santa Claus!
“Hello boys!” said Santa Claus. “How are you sweet fellas doing on this brisk, Christmas eve?”
The cats rubbed against his legs and then jumped onto his lap.
“We’re doing great, Santa!” they said together.
“I’m here because I need help from you and your forest friends,” said Santa. “My sleigh caught a crosswind on the way back from Peru, and I clipped a rock wall on the Siula Grande!”
The cats looked at him with concern.
“Long story short, one of my runners is broken and I didn’t notice until I flew over Calgary and a piece fell off. Boy, whoever finds that is going to have something worth putting on eBay.”
The cats looked at each other and then hopped down on the floor of the sleigh.
“You boys think you and your friends can give me some help?”
The cats nodded at Santa and went to look at the damage to his sleigh. It looked like Santa had really whacked the side of the mountain pretty hard. One side of the sled was missing almost all of its runner, and the mounts had ripped right out of the floor.
“If you can bring me the materials, I can put this thing back together. I have a toolset in there that was originally intended for someone’s dad, but I am sure we can borrow it and re-wrap it.” Santa said with a smile.
“We would be happy to help!” said Gary.
“We’ll go get our friends!” said Morris.
“The more the merrier,” said Santa.
Gary and Morris ran off into the forest to go see who they could muster to help them out!
Their first stop was Bullwinkle the moose. They needed someone strong enough to move heavy material.
Bullwinkle had been staying in the cottage they all found as a group earlier this summer. The weather now was cold and he liked to stay warm, so they built a special door for him to use.
Gary and Morris ran up to the window and knocked on it until Bullwinkle came to the door. He was very tired.
“Gary. Morris. While it is usually an absolute treat, I was asleep.”
“We know, Bullwinkle,” said Morris. “And we’re sorry., but it’s a Christmas emergency!”
Bullwinkle perked up, “What’s going on?”
“Santa’s sleigh has crash-landed beside the shelter and he needs our help to bring him supplies to repair it!” said Gary.
“That’s quite the situation… I’m in,” said Bullwinkle.
The cats and the moose then ran over to the river to find their beaver friend, Terrance.”
With the cold, Terrance was doing most of his business under the ice these days, but he often kept an opening here and there.
The cats and Bullwinkle sat and waited a while for Terrance to surface. Eventually, they grew impatient, and Bullwinkle let out a loud grunt and stomped the ground right by the wall of Terrance’s shelter.
Out of the ice crawled a very tired-looking Terrance.
“Good morning, or evening, or whatever is going on right now,” said Terrance.
“Terrance!” shouted Gary. “Santa needs your help!”
“Santa?!” said Terrance.
“Santa!” said Morris.
“Santa?” said Terrance.
“Yes, Santa,” said Gary.
“Why does Santa need my help?” said Terrance.
“His sleigh is broken and we need to make a new runner for it. Can you get us a nice long and skinny tree trunk?” said Gary.
“I suppose if the world is waiting, I could help a Santa Claus in a bind,” said Terrance.
“THE Santa Claus,” said Morris.
“To the forest!” said Terrance.
Terrance, Gary and Morris climbed onto Bullwinkle’s back and they made their way to the edge of the birch forest. It was there that the two cats were able to point out a tree that would match the right size of the sleigh.
“This one right here will do!” said Gary.
Terrance saddled up next to the base of the tree and started gnawing away. He quickly cut the trunk down and right into Bullwinkle’s waiting antlers. Bullwinkle lifted the small tree trunk high in the air and the three small animals hopped on his back once more.
“We’re comin’ Santa!” yelled Bullwinkle.
The snow was deep around the forest but luckily Bullwinkle’s legs were very tall. He sailed over the drifts as if they weren’t even there.
After what felt like forever, the animals could see the reflective gold and silver on the harnesses of the reindeer.
“It really is Santa!” said Bullwinkle. “He came back!”
The big moose walked right up to Santa’s sled and dropped the birch log onto the snow.
“Santa! It’s me, Bullwinkle! Do you remember me?”
“Of course, I do,” said Santa. “I remember all the good creatures of this world. It is nice to see you!”
“We brought you this log to replace your runner,” said Terrance. “Let me just get it into the right shape first.”
Terrance started gnawing the log, quickly working it over and over again. He worked fast, and accurately. It was amazing to watch as he turned what was once a long and skinny birch log into what looked like an unpainted replacement for the original sleigh runner.
“Well done little Terrance!” said Santa.
“Thank you, Santa,” said Terrance. “I am actually quite big for my species.”
“Well now we can attach this to my sleigh using the tools I have here,” said Santa. “Bullwinkle, if you don’t mind holding this in place?”
Bullwinkle moved the old runner out of the way, and then put the new runner in its place. He then held it there while Santa sunk about 20 3-inch deck screws into the thing using a brushless 20-volt cordless drill.
“That ought to hold it!” shouted Santa.
The animals let out a cheer, including the reindeer, and Santa re-wrapped the drill in beautiful Christmas wrapping paper.
“I haven’t forgotten about you creatures,” said Santa. “I’ve got something for all of you!”
Santa finished wrapping the drill and then started to dig into the back of the sled. When he turned around he was holding a bunch of treats and wrapped presents for the animals.
“For Gary and Morris, some tins of the finest wet food available, as well as a bag of a new dry food flavour special from the North Pole,” said Santa. “I also have two warm cat beds for you to bring inside and sleep on.”
The cats were overjoyed with their presents.
“For Bullwinkle, I have twigs and leaves from willow, aspen, and birch trees, as well as a warm blanket for your cabin.”
“Thank you, Santa! I love twigs and leaves!” said Bullwinkle.
“And finally, for Terrance, the beaver who saved the day, I have bark and cambium from willow, aspen and birch trees. I also brought you some nice fluffy towels to dry off with!”
“Thank you very much!” said Terrance. “I used to have to just wait to dry off. Now I can get warm up quickly after a hard day’s work in the river.
The animals all went up for a nice warm hug from Santa then he returned to his seat and took the reigns in his hands.
“Merry Christmas you four! You are very helpful, very wonderful creatures,” said Santa.
With that, Santa and his reindeer took off into the night sky, their silver and gold harnesses sparkling in the moonlight, the red sleigh gleaming under its trim, and the new, unpainted, birch log runner securely fastened in its position, made by Terrance.
The animals stood in the snow, watching as Santa’s sleigh disappeared into the night sky.
“Merry Christmas!” said Gary.
“Merry Christmas!” the other animals cheered.
“Thanks for all your help tonight, Bullwinkle and Terrance. You two saved Christmas!”
“I guess we kind of did,” said Bullwinkle. “You’re right!”
“Of course we did you giant mammal,” said Terrance. “Not just anyone in the forest can haul a log on top of their head, then pass it off to another animal who uses its head to trim it to shape.”
“You two certainly are special,” said Morris.
The animals all bid each other adieu. Gary and Morris went back to the Hervey Cats shelter while Terrance hopped onto Bullwinkle’s back and the two strode off to their homes through the deep snow.
Back at the shelter, Gary and Morris were enjoying the cat beds they had dragged back through the cat door and into the house. They were nice and warm – just what they needed after a night in the snow!
“What a Christmas!” said Gary.
“And we still have presents to open in the morning?” said Morris. “I don’t know if I can handle it!”
“I’ll never forget this Christmas,” said Gary. “I hope Santa continues to visit us in the future.”
“So do I,” said Morris.
Both cats started to purr as they fell asleep. In the morning, it would be Christmas!