the cat came back. and just won’t go away. and is still coming back.

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a few years back, when he was still a wee lad, grandbaby m came all the way from australia to visit for the holidays. we bought a crazy pile of used toys for him to play with, knowing he’d have to leave most of them behind, and planned to donate them back for other kids to enjoy, upon his return home. he was very fascinated by animals – cats in particular, at this stage of his life. while here, he played with real cats, and halloween cats, and we bought him knit cats, cloth cats, stuffed cats, and then – the mechanical cat.

imagine our surprise, after we purchased this cat,  when we discovered, it was just not an ordinary stuffed cat, but it had a place for batteries inside it’s belly, hidden under it’s mangy, ratted, orange fur. m took to this cat immediately, and loved to sit with it and play with it and carry it around.  the adults, on the other hand, began to become a bit freaked out by it the longer it was around. it had a peculiar habit of moving once in a while, in no particular interval of time, and quite often, it seemed to turn it’s creepy head and stare right at us. (chucky’s feline counterpart in my opinion).

we were all a bit relieved and happy when he took to this creature, figuring it would be traveling home down under with him, never to cross our paths again. imagine our surprise once more, when we discovered they had left it behind, hidden in the house for us to find. we put it back out for a while, under the tree, as it continued to move at will and make eye contact with us from time to time. once the holidays were over, i thought it might be funny to pack it up and bring it out at christmas the next year. i packed it up with the other holiday stuff and forgot about it. 

when the next year came, i wrapped it up and offered it as my ‘white elephant’ gift, one that some innocent family member would receive as a lucky surprise. another daughter chose this package, and not knowing, opened it, and there was a collective gasp from the group, as everyone remembered it from the year before. she was a good sport and reluctantly kept it for the year, only to do the same thing to some other unsuspecting relative at our next christmas celebration.

each year now, as is our new tradition, the person who ‘won’ it the year before, brings it back, elaborately wrapped and disguised, waiting to pass it on. each person reports that it does odd and creepy things when they have it – moving at will, making rustling sounds at night, and of course, the staring. each person has used their own strategy to deal with it. one combed its hair out, – trying to get on its good side, some have hidden it, left it in the box, or taken its batteries out. each year, it comes back, rattier, and mangier, and shows its age a bit more, yet it still instills a bit of illogical terror in all of us. this year, it could come back wrapped in a flat-screen tv box, or in a beautiful gift bag, just biding its time, until it once again goes home with someone – and it waits quietly for someone to forget and open it, the year’s winner. 

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55 responses »

  1. Haha, that is an excellent tradition. A friend and I used to take turns hiding a SUPER creepy mardigras clown doll thing all over the house… it would disappear for a few months and then BOOM there it is, hiding in the coffee filter basket.

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  2. That is excellent Beth. We do the gift thing every year at my moms house. That is a great i dea to have this creepy returning gift coming back every year. Is it a coveted gift or does nobody want to get it.?

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    • tomnardone – most people detest and fear the thing, there are the twisted few who long to own it for a year. i would suggest you seek out a creepy gift asap and rotate it into the mix. makes the holidays even more fun.

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  3. in my family it was a package of marzipan fruits. They were hard as rocks and actually chipped just like rocks as they aged. They were passed from stocking to stocking for years until they finally went missing during a move. The first time I had fresh (and really, really good) marzipan in Portugal I went into shock. Love you cat story!

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  4. look into a dog’s eyes and you will see love and adoration staring back at you but . . . look into a cat’s eyes and you will see a brooding, malevolent, menacing glare and you just know that cat is planning some evil deed

    cats are evil – never turn your back on one

    better still, never let one into your house -[ even if it appears to be stuffed ]

    ever!

    😉

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  5. 1. The Cat Came Back is the most annoying song ever!!!

    2. Mangy Robot Cat reminds me so much of a certain Talking Tina from The Twilight Zone…. you don’t hear June Foray’s voice coming from it every so often, do you?

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  6. *snort*
    I’ve been looking forward to this 😀
    That’s so funny – I used to live with someone whose family had a thing about ‘salad-bowls’ at Christmas. Not a patch on this though!

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  7. Hahaha That’s great. I have my first “white elephant” party in years coming up…it’s against the rules to buy anything, but the creepy toy is just too perfect, I may have to sneak one in…now I just need to find one that’s haunted.

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  8. We had a black one of these that I picked up at a garage sale. I never put batteries in it because battery operated toys annoy me. Now I’m second guessing my decision. I think it’s in the basement somewhere. I need to find it now!

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  9. I like this story for a few different reasons, first I fully understand the randomness of what children love to play with! Second, the way you tried to get it to leave the first time, and it didn’t make the plane trip! Lastly, as mentioned above, it became a silly tradition, to figure out who is going to get the cat AGAIN! I love those games where you pick a gift because you have a number, then it is allowed to be stolen twice before it retires. I also like white elephant gifts because they are so unique. This was a fun story and great way it unfolded!

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  10. I’m visiting via Robin’s blog – witlessdatingafterfifty…so glad she pointed me this way. I’m sneaking a peek at work so I can’t write much now but I hope to check out other posts; I loved the story of the returning cat! Every Christmas at our department white elephant party the guests dread getting the photo frame. It’s a photograph of the ghosts of Christmas past: Red-neck wind chimes, which were passed around for several years; an old style desk phone; a framed photo of one of the attorneys at their law school graduation (yes, a photo in a photo)…the list goes on. Last year one of the attorneys I work for hid the frame in a package with a bottle of whiskey (Washington had recently passed legislation allowing alcohol to be sold everywhere as opposed to only in State run liquor stores, so she walked across the street to the drug store at the last minute). The recipient wasn’t too disappointed to get the “Gift of Doom”! LOL!

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