Well, Christmas is coming up and I can already tell our cat, Alphonso, is getting anxious. Try as he may, my wife, Marianne, never likes any of the gifts he brings her.

Why just the other day he took the time and effort to lay a big squirrel head at the foot of our bed as a good morning surprise and, instead of thanking him, she made a big fuss about it. I only hope the ASPCA doesn’t get word of the mean things she said to him.

And get this, when she was done with the cat, she directed her tirade at me as if I was the bad gift-giver. I was ordered to evict the squirrel and Alphonso from the premises. Of course, I apologized to Alphonso for Marianne’s behavior. I told him it was really one of the nicer squirrel heads he ever brought us. It was almost as nice as the rabbit head he dumped in the kitchen last year.

“She always has been a tough one to shop for,” I told him.

When I got back to the bedroom, she was still on the war path.

“Now, we’re going to have to wash this comforter!” she said at a decibel that might well have cracked glass. “I had plans today!”

I was a little concerned to hear ‘we’ and ‘wash this comforter’ in the same sentence. I had important plans, too, that day, most of which involved laying on the recliner and watching some vitally important fishing shows. I wasn’t sure I could work a trip to the laundromat into an already limited schedule.

“Why don’t you just wash off the spot where the squirrel was?” I tried, hoping she would see reason.

After she finished explaining why the entire comforter had to be washed because “THEIR WAS A SQUIRREL HEAD ON IT!”, I added ‘Check the windowpanes for cracked glass’ to my list of things that needed doing that day.

Alphonso is a natural-born gift giver. It is in his DNA.

When he was a half-grown kitten, he routinely brought in roaches from the outside and released them in the house. The majority of his captives scrambled off for parts unknown. The daredevils amongst them spun around on their back in tight little circles, which is a pretty bad move if you are a roach and there is a cat around. You’d think roach parents would teach their kids to look both ways before crossing the street, don’t talk to strangers and never, ever spin around on your back in front of a cat.

I’ll spare you the details, but it never goes well for the roach.

As Alphonso grew, the gifts he brought into the house diversified. Grasshoppers. Moths. A frog or two. Dead birds. Two rabbits. An entire squirrel (or most of it). They were usually gifts for Marianne. He placed them on the rug next to her side of the bed. She would wake up and their Alphonso would be, perched next to his newest offering. If he could talk, he would have probably said “Surprise! I saw it while I was out, and I just had to get it for you!”

Marianne is not the it’s-the-thought-that-counts type. Ingrate that she is, she berates him for his gift choices. You can tell Alphonso is thoroughly confused by her reaction, yet good cat that he is, he still tries to find her something she likes.

The snakes were a complete disaster.

He could almost understand her reaction to the first snake. It was more or less dead and didn’t wiggle much when you clawed it. But the second snake was as lively as they come. You could tell by the way it shot off under the couch Marianne was laying on the second he dropped it in the living room. Instead of being thankful Marianne levitated four feet out off the couch and shot out of the room without ever touching the floor.

Alphonso had to lay low for a while after that one.

I mention all this, because late last night I caught Alphonso heading for the bedroom with a mouthful of dead mouse. I shooed him out of the house before Marianne found out about it.

Alphonso is still angry over the incident. If this keeps up, he may just have to add us to Santa’s Naughty List.