There was only one thing left to do. That was laugh. So laugh I did. I’m sure the neighbors thought I’d gone insane. And I probably had. At least for a little while.
It was frickin’ cold. Snowing, too. The day before Christmas. December 24th. And I was standing outside my house, in my pajamas, my fuzzy house shoes, and my bathrobe. Watching the house burn to the ground.
Stupid cats. It was all their fault. I’d been watching the NORAD Santa Claus report. You know. The radar tracking of Santa NORAD does every year. I know. I’m all grown up. I know there’s not really a Santa. But I started watching the NORAD feed on the ‘Net when I was a kid. Dad was so proud of it. “See, Son! We can track Santa! You can get an idea of when he’ll reach our neighborhood!” He patiently explained how Santa never came when children were awake, so we could use the NORAD radar tracking system to figure out when we all needed to go to bed, so Santa could visit us.
Yeah. I fell for it. Hell, I was only 5. Santa was God back then. “Dear Santa, I want a new table computer. And a smart phone. And a Playstation 4.” And it was like God heard, and granted wishes.
Took me several years to figure out it was Mom and Dad, and not Santa. But I still watched the NORAD feed every year. And I still felt that same tingle of excitement I felt when I was five.
Of course, the cats watched the lights on the tree. I don’t know which one of them found the cord and managed to short it out, causing the spark that set the tree on fire. I just heard a crashing noise, and smelled smoke. “Jesus, what have you idiots done now!” I got up to find out what they’d done, expecting to see the tree pulled over, and lots of the glass ornaments on it broken, booby trapping the carpet.
I sure didn’t expect to see the tree glowing orange, red, yellow. But it was. I remember my words when I saw it. “Holy shit!” Yeah. I know. Original.
I grabbed my phone, dialed 911, and screamed, “Fire! The damn tree’s on fire!”
Have you ever tried to speak rationally about where you are, and what’s going on, when you’re watching your Living Room go up in smoke? “Get everyone out of the house. The fire department is on its way.”
Everyone was me, and my three cats. They were waiting patiently by the front door. We all made it outside, and stood there, in the snow, waiting for the fire department.
Like I said. There was only one thing left to do. Decide if I wanted to laugh, or cry. So, I laughed. Like an insane maniac. As I watched my home go up in smoke.