The woman and I carry a tree home on our shoulders. The kitten dives into it before we can get it into the stand. We decide not to put anything glass on the tree this year. We decide to tie the tree to the curtain rods. So the kitten can't pull down the tree without also pulling down all of the. Hmm.
I try to repair a string of Christmas tree lights the kitten has already unwired. I grump and flop into a wooden chair and break the chair cartoon-style, snap crack bang, and yank the wires back out of the lights I've just patched together. The kid focuses all of her mental powers � I see her temples throb from across the room � on not laughing at me. I shove the pieces of chair out of the way, put the lights back together, and plug them in. The fuse does not blow.
No presents for anyone except the kid. Santa rings the doorbell and takes off before the kid can see him, but he sticks a Santa hat on mama and leaves her a big red bag full of toys and books for the kid.
Dinner. We have it here, but Grandpa and Grandma and Grandma's brother bring most of the food. The table is covered with dismantled scaly things, things sliced and jellied, cross-sectioned things that squirmed the bottom of the sea.
The kid plays with her toys and doesn't eat; she doesn't much like any food, and Christmas dinner is pushing it. The kitten discovers mistletoe and runs everywhere with it. Grandpa is ill, so he doesn't drink much. Grandma, head cook, eats and talks with her brother, who sneaks off to the kitchen to fry his own fish the way he likes it.
The fuse does not blow, but I have to go for a walk. Drivers are still working, buses and trams and ambulances and taxis and trains are still going, but there's only me out there and I'm only walking.
Home and more peeling back of skins and scales, more plucking of spines to get at the softer parts. Then Grandma sleeps in the armchair, Grandpa yawns, Uncle runs out of things to say. Then all gone. The other Grandma comes and takes the kid and her pajamas away for more toys and another Christmas dinner she won't eat. Grandpa and Grandma and Uncle leave in one taxi.
The woman and I move fishes, wash dishes, and keep leaping cats from fish and each other. When midnight comes, when the animals are said to speak, we try talking to the cats, but they've also had enough.