There are two trees in this home: the big one for the two-legged folk (although you'd think Pip and Olive had broken into our stash of catnip and were stoned out of their minds with the amount of time they spend laying under it staring into the branches and lights, not touching anything, just staring with wide eyes) and the small tree for the four-legged members of the household. The big tree is real and smells wonderful and is covered in countless fancy ornaments. The small one is fake and bendy and smells like the Rubbermaid container where we store it and is decorated with those ornaments that we've somehow acquired over the years––a few Precious Moments collectibles that hurt my teeth to even look at, a Boba Fett ornament, a gangly cowboy and a pastel pony for him to ride, just to name a few. They have been given to us by co-workers and misguided friends, or people who don't exactly share our taste in holiday decor. It's not an ugly tree by any means but it's not the one we display prominently. It can be knocked over with minimal fuss and should one of the ornaments break we wouldn't really be upset.
For the most part Duncan and the cats are very good about the trees. Olive does occasionally give in to her weakness for wrapping paper and bows, but generally speaking everyone has a very clear understanding that the trees are for looking at, not touching.
One member of our household, though, has taken an interest in a particular ornament and can't seem to contain his desire to simply look at it. The small, fuzzy Golden Retriever wearing the Santa cap and scarf has captured Duncan's interest and there's almost nothing I can do to stop it. It's not enough for it to sit under the tree, right up front, prominently displayed. No, it needs to be carried around in his mouth, tucked under his paws, hidden from view when he sits on the couch, carried to the food bowl and back, and buried among his other toys where it can't be easily discovered.
Duncan has learned our routine. At night he knows when the TV is turned off and the teeth are brushed and when we amble around in the dark turning off the lights that it's time for bed. Typically he'll either climb onto the bed or curl up among the blankets and pillows in his kennel. Since Christmas erupted in our apartment and the ornament has made its appearance, he has taken to staying in his spot under the coffee table and waiting until we're in bed before he joins us. It's when the lights are out that he sneaks the ornament out from under the tree, being careful not to disturb anything else, and retires to his "room," the Retriever cupped gently in his mouth. That's where I find it every morning, wet and scrunched down under the blanket Mom knitted for him or resting under one of his Pooh Bear's paws. Unlike his other toys he does not chew on it, merely slobbers it to death. And because it's so cute and he's so innocent about it, I let it happen. Whenever I take it from him he looks at me with his big, doleful brown eyes, somewhat embarrassed at being caught again, but he watches and waits for the next opportunity to snatch it away from the tree where he alone can appreciate its Christmas magic.