Christmas

The first sound brought his head up, eyes wide, muscles tense. The cat backed further into the shadows as his stable filled with sounds of confusion and people in a hurry. He stayed there a long time, motionless and watching.

What he saw turned out to be a man, a woman and the birth of a baby. He watched as they placed the new baby in the manger. He had seen many baby lambs put there. Never a baby person.

The cat continued watching until everyone finally slept. Then he quietly moved out of his corner and over to the manger. He stretched himself up and up so that his paws reached the top and he could put his chin over the edge. He looked and sniffed. He found no ordinary baby. The Creator, Himself, slept in the manger!

He should be treated very well. Why was He in a stable? The cat turned a very serious little face to look at the parents, then at the Creator and back again. It was obvious—this family needed help.

He heard footsteps and voices. He dropped his paws back down to the straw and quickly moved into the shadows. But not too far.

Men were at the door. They told of angels and the message of a Savior’s birth. When they knelt down and worshiped the Creator the watching cat relaxed, purring his approval.

He stayed close to the Creator all through the night. He watched out for Him even as he spent time washing his shiny black fur. And the brown and black striped tail and ears that he was so proud of.

The Creator only had to make one unhappy noise for the cat to spring into action. He trotted over to the manger and jumped in. The Creator was cold! The cat very carefully curled up next to Him and began to purr. Soon the Creator was fast asleep with His little hand wrapped around a paw.

The cat was still close by when more strangers came. They didn’t look like anyone he had ever seen before. They didn’t smell like anything he’d smelled before. They must have come from far away. He heard the words Kings and Magi. They worshiped, too. And they brought gifts in bright shiny jars. He thought about those gifts all the rest of the day.

That night he went out. He searched and searched. Finally he found a shiny coin laying on the street. He picked it up in his mouth and hurried back. As he jumped in to keep his Creator warm this time he carefully placed his gift beside Him.

The baby’s parents watched the cat very closely. They tried to make him leave at first, but each night was the same. He searched until he found the gift he wanted to give. He laid it next to the Creator and spent the night curled up next to Him, quietly purring.

He was still in the middle of his morning bath when the family left. They left in a hurry, as if they were in danger. He had to run to catch up with them. He followed them all day. He got so tired that he had to stop to rest several times. Then he had to run to make up for his rest. But when it began to get dark and they made camp, he was there to take his place next to the Creator. He kept himself busy washing his tired paws—and ducking flying baby fists—while the parents ate their meal and talked quietly.

His search for a gift this time was much harder. There was nothing shiny on this desert road. Then, out of the corner of his eye, he saw something move. He crouched down and waited. As it came closer his muscles tensed, his ears went back against his head and his claws dug deep into the sand. He waited. He watched. He sprang. Success!

He walked proudly into the fire light with his gift in his mouth. But, as he was about to get into the Creator’s cradle, the man stopped him. It seemed that he didn’t think it was the right kind of gift. The cat reluctantly opened his mouth and watched as the mouse scurried out of sight.

But, he had to have a gift! He continued to search. Finally he found a stone that shone in the moonlight. This time his gift was approved. He happily laid it next to his Creator and took his place beside Him.

The cat watched them carefully the next morning. He didn’t want to be taken by surprise again.

He didn’t have to worry. Before they set out this time, they picked him up and put him with the Creator. He purred happily. They finally understood that he had to care for the Creator, too. And they used a name when they called him. He liked it.

Magi and his family traveled all the way to Egypt. He continued to take his job seriously. He stayed close to his Creator and watched over Him. And each night he found a bright shiny gift for Him. But the best gift Magi ever gave was himself.

© 1995, Micki Parkinson

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