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The Best Present

Author Shelley Fraser Mickle
Air Date 12/25/2000
christmas gifts on white background

The Best Present Transcript

In 1958, I was an awkward fourteen-year old whose cat had just been run over. I’d found that cat when I was eight years old, and it had been the cat of my middle childhood and a good friend. When my grandmother came to visit for the Christmas holidays, I would always put that cat in the bed with her. She hated cats – or at least said she did – and she would come whooping and hollering out of the bed, which for some reason delighted me. It became our game – my grandmother and me. I would slip the cat up under her bed covers, and she would fly out of the bed in her nightgown, playing her role to the hilt.

So the Christmas of 1958 promised to be sad and dreary with no cat to tease my grandmother with, and also with me on the edge of womanhood when it seemed I ought to be giving up such childish pranks. But on Christmas Eve, my new best friend, Kerry Darnell, called me up and said she wanted to bring my present over. “It’s not something I can just drop off,” she said.

Kerry Darnell arrived carrying a red wrapped box as big as an orange crate. She set it down on the living room floor, then grinned at me. “Go ahead,” she said, “open it.” The box was wiggling as if any minute it was going to fly across the floor.

When I tore off the top, a skinny gray cat with one ear and half a tail jumped out. He ran around the living room, then came back and climbed into my lap and purred. “Oh! He’s beautiful,” I said. Kerry told me she’d found him behind the Dairy Dip eating out of the garbage cans. I named him Lucky, because it was clear that up until now, he hadn’t had much luck, and then I took him into the guest bedroom and slipped him next to my grandmother who was taking a nap.

Needless to say, that new cat was one of the best holiday presents I ever received, for he played a large part in my grandmother’s life and in the preservation of what was left of my childhood. I guess that’s what a good present really is – something that a friend finds for you that you least expect, and it it stays with you as a memory forever.

Posted in Holidays, Stories