The Christmas Cat

A beloved Christmas tree ornament and a playful kitten teach an important lesson about family and forgiveness.

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Angels on Earth blogger Colleen Hughes

Today’s guest-blogger is Angels on Earth editorial assistant Kelly P. Gallagher.

Growing up, our Christmas tree was never decorated with elaborate lights or tons of tinsel. Instead, my mother used mismatched hand-me-down bulbs.

There was one thing that made our tree special, though. Instead of the little angels and stars that everyone else used on their trees, we had a German tree topper called a Christbaumspitze, or spitze for short.

Although my mother was born in Hamburg, Germany, you’d never know it. She had no accent, spoke German only rarely, and adhered to American traditions in nearly every way. She had worked hard to assimilate, but in this small way, she chose to stand out. That was what made the spitze—and our tree—special to me.

When I was seven, my family adopted a stray orange kitten, Tony. He was very playful and quickly won everyone’s heart. A few nights before Christmas, my whole family was awakened by a frightening crash. Tony had tried to climb the Christmas tree! We found him pinned under it, scared but unhurt. The spitze was not so lucky. It had completely shattered.

Mom mourned her cherished ornament. She was mad, and stayed mad for days. But on Christmas, there were still toys and catnip waiting for Tony under the branches of our now-lopsided tree.

“Aren’t you still mad at him?” my brother and I wanted to know. “He broke the spitze!”

“He’s a member of the family,” my mom said. “Whether he was naughty or nice.”

This year will mark 20 years since that Christmas. Tony and the spitze are both gone now, but the memories of our animal angel are far more precious than the spitze ever was.


All of us at Angels on Earth wish all of you a very merry Christmas and happy new year full of angels! We’ll see you in 2012.

With love,
Colleen Hughes

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