A Holiday season tale by Cleo Menkart

Christmas this year was the greatest. It was a family affair, involving just Ellie, George, my cousin Clyde and I. A leisurely breakfast preceded a dignified gift opening ceremony. Clyde and I enjoyed the gifts sent by aunt Diddy. Ellie was particularly pleased with a new Trimetal golf club. A new 56k modem seemed to be George's favorite. Following the ceremony a round of golf occupied Ellie and George, Clyde guarded the house from a well hidden position in the yard and I moved from one comfortable dozing spot to another inside my house.

Saturday, the day after Christmas, started out quiet and nice. All that changed a little after 4 when Ellie shouted " they are here". They turned out to be Trish, her husband Mike, Alison, Dan, Kayla and two most unwelcome beasts, Cody and Sam. Just as soon as the invaders started to enter I retired to my shelter, under the bed in the master bedroom. Clyde surveyed the bedlam from on top a table in the family room. In no time at all Clyde was forced to teach Sam that the Menkart cats do not like to be investigated by invading dogs. After the lesson Clyde joined me in the safe part of the house. Strangers, we have learned, seldom stick their noses into the master bedroom suite.

Prisoners in a corner of our very own house are what Clyde and I became for the seven days the invaders had free run of the premises. From time to time in the course of the occupation we did enjoy a little peace and freedom. This was the case when the people left the house and the monster dogs were locked in the garage.

Sunday we had a brief respite. George and Mike played golf in the morning and were joined by the rest of the clan for Brunch at the Country Club.

Monday Clyde and I were able to relax thanks to Ellie's and George's friends the Mason's . 
A tour of the St. Johns river on Carol's and Chuck's yacht, Vagabond provided freedom of the house all afternoon. All participants must have enjoyed the afternoon for they could hardly stop talking about the eagle, osprey , manatees and herons that were observed on the ride. Carol's snacks were also a memorable hit.

Tuesday Clyde and I enjoyed the whole day while barbarians were at Sea World. Wednesday we got some respite when the gang went to DeLeon Springs for a pancake breakfast and later left the house to pick oranges. Thursday another blissfully peaceful day. Sea World, http://www.seaworld.com/, was the magnet which again cleared the house, this time from 8:30 in the morning until 4:30 in the afternoon. By the sounds of it Ellie, George and the intruders had enjoyable outing. There were complaints about traffic on I-4. Clyde and I had no sympathy for the complainers. What did they expect,  it's the Holidays a time when people feel obliged to get on the road and travel here and there. Why do  people do that? How should I know? I am just a dumb cat.

Starting Wednesday there was a great deal of talk about the weather and much attention paid to the Weather Channel. Ice storm, what ever that may be, and Saturday  were often mentioned in the same sentence. Clyde and I were delighted when the talk turned to withdrawal of the interlopers and Friday was set as the day. Year 1999 started very early at the Menkart home. Final preparation for the departure of Trish's gang, including the canines, began at 4. By five they were on the road. Shortly thereafter Clyde checked every room in the house and then demanded to be let out and in several times. Our test indicated that  all was well, the house was ours again.  At 5 in the afternoon Ellie and George received a phone call which confirmed that Cody, Sam and the rest of the entourage had arrived in Christiansburg. They seemed as relieved as Clyde and I. Obviously they had been concerned, as had Clyde and I, that the gang might turn around an come back. Now that  we know that they are 700 miles away Clyde and I can stop being vigilant and totally relax in all of our favorite places.