O Christmas Tree 2017

To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the book Tatianna—Tales and Teachings of My Feline Friend during this Christmas season, here is an excerpt about my cat tree. Tatianna slept under a ten-foot live Scotch pine tree every year for sixteen Christmases.

Six Cat Heads Started Collection 1982

“During Christmas 2000, the live pine tree showcased exclusively more than two hundred cat ornaments—a collection that had evolved over Tatianna’s lifetime. The Christmas cat ornament collection innocently started in 1982 while I attended a veterinary convention in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. I was shopping in a Christmas store and simply wanted to purchase a souvenir. Little did I know that the purchase of six porcelain cat heads, representing white, black, gray, calico, Siamese, and orange marmalade cats, would grow into a massive collection!

Cuter than Cute!

Unpacking and hanging the myriad of cat ornaments were rituals in and of themselves. The cat ornaments were wooden, metal, paper, hand quilted, glass, ceramic, plastic, resin, knitted, stainless steel, silver plated, hand painted, or felt. They were whimsical, angelic, simple, detailed, comical, or musical. Some had movable parts and jointed legs and arms. Collector ornaments included fragile Christopher Radko heirlooms, Garfield, Kliban, Gorham silver plate, Bradford Exchange, and Hallmark. Two exquisite Radko ornaments showcased two cats sleeping in blue snowflake mittens and a cat sleeping on beautiful packages. There were assorted cat colors represented, including gray, orange marmalade, white, black, tiger striped, tabby, and calico. The baubles depicted the cats in stockings, in trees, in garland, in holly, in wreaths, on skates, on pillows, in gifts, in trunks, in mailboxes, in carriages, in boxes, in boots, in baskets, in airplanes, with umbrellas, on picture frames, and on hymnals. They personified cats in dresses, in hats, with handbags, and holding parasols. They were baking, fishing, shopping, or snoozing. Cats wrapped themselves around candy canes or were decorated in lights and garland. Others peeked out of a Victorian shoe or popped out of a cat-in-the-box. Mice, fish, or red bells dangled from many ornaments.

Santa Kitty

I acquired the eclectic ornaments from friends, family, and my world travels. Some ornaments brought back tearful memories of Noelle and Taittinger. One reminded me of the year Noelle knocked over a seven-foot live tree while climbing to the top, and the tree had to be wired to a curtain rod for the rest of the season. Baby Taittinger especially liked to crawl under the tabletop tree decorated in peach and white and snooze for hours. Other ornaments reminded me of Ken. One in particular was a Hallmark ornament with a black cat and white cat playing peek-a-boo in a red plastic basket with a movable lid. A second white cat dangled on a string under the basket. If I pulled the string one way, the black cat’s head popped out of the basket, and if I pulled again, the first white cat’s head was visible. It was an amusing ornament and always made me laugh—just like Ken did. Another treasured ornament from Ken was two gray cats dressed as a bride and a groom.

A Sentimental Favorite

I especially prized the Hallmark Keepsake Collection, because my mother gave one of them to me annually since 1985. The Hallmark cat ornaments were lighthearted and mischievous—just like Tatianna. One series of ornaments was called Mischievous Kitten and another The Cat Nap. My Hallmark collection spanned fifteen years and the cats in it were up to a variety of antics, including hanging on a bird cage, laying over a fish bowl, wearing antlers, making cookies, sleeping in a knitting basket, climbing a Christmas tree, dangling from a stocking, and catching a bee on a poinsettia.

Love Those Faces!

The ornaments from all over the world reminded me of my special travels. Some ornaments came from Macy’s in New York; Harrods in London; the Black Forest in Germany; Paris; Rome; Savannah; San Francisco; as well as Frankenmuth, Michigan, a German-style village that boasts the world’s largest Christmas store.

Besides all of the cat ornaments, the tree included a wooden beaded cat garland, beanbag-style gray cats that mischievously climbed up into the top of the tree, a cat tree topper, and a cat tree skirt. An orange marmalade beanbag cat adorned in a red Santa hat was sleeping on a branch two feet from the top of the tree. Old-fashioned bubble lights and red bows completed the whimsical tree. It was indeed a tree with a lot of personality, not unlike Tatianna.” (End of excerpt)

Since that era, the cat tree has evolved to a smaller tree. I have had a joyful time in 2017 decorating a four-foot pre-lit tree with a selection of some of my favorite cat ornaments. But these are hard decisions as all the cats want out of the storage boxes! I also have a new eBay customer/friend who is starting her first Christmas cat tree and I am so pleased many of the ornaments have a new home where they will be displayed and cherished for years to come.