Something happened about a week ago that I’ve only now recovered from sufficiently to write you about. It was nighttime. I was on the sofa, half asleep. The humans were having some sort of party, I’d made my rounds, and I was ready for a nap. Then suddenly there were explosions, lots of them, coming from the sky, with flashing lights and falling sparks. We were under some sort of attack.
The humans ran outside and I followed figuring they knew best where we’d be safest. But when we got there all they did was stare up at the sky and make noises like ‘Ohh!’ and ‘Ahh!’. The explosions got louder and the lights got closer. It definitely did not feel safer. Fortunately they’d left the door open and I was able to go back inside.
I ran to the little room where they keep a lot of their clothes and hid in the very back until the noise stopped. Actually I stayed there until they found me and dragged me out. They kept saying everything was all right but I wasn’t convinced. Their judgment was a bit suspect, considering their earlier behavior. It turned out they were right and the commotion was over, but I never got a good explanation of what had happened. I was hoping you could clear things up for me.
Well, Roscoe, I think I can help. What you describe sounds like ‘fireworks’. You must be young if this was your first experience because they happen every year. More than once. I’m not sure why but I’ve been around a while and I have some idea of when.
I’d been living with the Doc and mom for about six months when suddenly strange things began to happen. The furniture in the living room got moved around. Decorations started going up over the fireplace. It was winter, so the fireplace was getting a fair amount of use and I remember thinking they were going to burn the house down if they weren’t careful. A couple days later they bring this big tree into the house and stick it in front of the window I like to look out when I’m in my favorite chair. I like trees, and I was able to see a lot of them through the window before they put this one in front of it. Anyway, there it was.
The next day they started putting lights and what they called ‘ornaments’ on the tree. You have to understand, the Doc is a pretty sensible guy so watching him dress up a tree like this was a little unnerving. For the next few weeks packages would come to the door and they’d get placed under the tree, like the tree was taking over and they were trying to be nice to it. For its part the tree just stood there and we pretty much left each other alone. I wasn’t about to start a conversation with it, but I realized it would probably be a bad idea to pee on it.
Then one morning mom and the Doc start opening the packages. Turns out the stuff was for them, and for me, too. Nothing for the tree, which by now was starting to look a little dead. Fine. Whatever. Finally, about a week later, there was a party, like the one you describe. I’m in bed when suddenly all hell breaks loose. I panic and start looking for a place to hide while the folks go out onto the deck to get a better look at whatever this disaster was. By the time it’s over I’m lying in a puddle of drool and shaking like a wet cat. I know this because I saw a cat get caught in the rain once. Thought I was going to die laughing. Anyway, it wasn’t so funny this time.
When they came back inside I got the same reaction you did. “It’s OK, Kaya. It’s just fireworks. Calm down.” Easy for them to say. They seemed not to realize my hearing is better than theirs and so is my vision. And what are ‘just fireworks’ anyway?
A couple days later it was all over—the decorations, the tree, the displaced furniture, all of it. Back to normal. By then my ears had stopped ringing and I decided to ask the Doc what the deal was. He explained that it was the holiday season. The tree was a Christmas tree and dressing it up was a tradition. The invasion was a celebration of New Year’s Eve, the last night of the year. Fireworks are things that sound like bombs and look like explosions, only fancier, and people set them off on special occasions. That was an answer, but hardly an explanation. Creatures such as ourselves don’t go in for a lot of unnecessary racket. A little barking, the occasional howl, and we’re fine.
By the time summer rolled around and I was just about a year old I’d pretty much forgotten the whole unpleasant business. Then one night, out of nowhere, it happened again. But this time it was worse. There was the main assault coming from somewhere near the beach, but then there were minor attacks, coming from different directions. Some of them seemed pretty close. I didn’t know which way to run, so I ran everywhere, drooling and shaking. The folks didn’t go out onto the deck like they did last time. They stayed with me, trying to calm me down and mopping up drool.
In retrospect I should have known something was up. Earlier in the day I’d heard the folks talking about something and looking at me. I thought I heard the word ‘fireworks’ but dismissed it as just my imagination. I mean, it was summer, there was no tree, no decorations. No warning whatsoever. I found out later it was the 4th of July. Without going into a lot of details, it’s a big deal to people in this country, it happens every year, and there are ALWAYS fireworks. But unless you have a calendar, and know how to use it, which most of us don’t, there’s no good way to know when it will be, exactly.
So, next year, when your people bring home the tree you can expect that within a few weeks there will be fireworks. Then, sometime in the summer, there will be more. Count on it. What’s really scary, though, is that once in a while there will be fireworks for no good reason at all. Who knows? Maybe you’ll even get used to them. Not me. The way I figure it is if it sounds like an air raid and looks like an air raid one of these days it just might be an air raid. Hiding in the closet might not save me, but it has to be better than standing outside on the deck.