Funny stories in under 500 words.

The Purrfect Gift

I hate Christmas.

Every year my family’s relatives come over—all twenty-seven and a half of them. (Kate counts as one and a half since she’s expecting a baby). As usual, I get kicked out of my own house as soon as they all arrive, while great-grandma Josephine’s full-blooded Pomeranian, Baryshnikov, gets to stay inside. But does the family’s loyal pet cat get to stay inside too? No-o-o! I get thrown out into the cold.

They say that I “get in the way.” I might “bother” someone. Well, Baryshnikov the Pomeranian bothers a lot more people than I ever would. Whenever he’s not the center of attention, he yips and yaps until someone makes over him. I can even hear him from outside, here in the freezing cold.

On Christmas morning, the family always sticks a scrumptious-looking turkey in the oven. It cooks all day long while I stare up at it. I always wish they’d let me have a bite, but that never happens. About the time it gets done, the relatives start arriving.

First there are the usual greetings and pleasantries.

“Hello, Isabella! How’s your arthritis?”

“Oh, you know me. I never complain.”

“Great-grandma Josephine is here!” If Great-grandma Josephine is here, then so is Baryshnikov. Hiss!

Then the mom of my family always manages to say, “Is that cat still in here? Somebody put the cat out!”

As Cousin Billy Bob drags me to the back door, Baryshnikov the Pomeranian snickers. He doesn’t think I heard him, but I did. What a rotten Christmas!

So, now I’m sitting out here in the cold while they eat turkey. They forgot to give me my usual half can of wet cat food. They forgot to give me anything at all. I’ll probably starve out here. It’s not fair. Baryshnikov gets to eat all the scraps that fall from the table. You’d think they’d at least give a few crusts of bread to their poor, hungry, freezing cat.

Now I can hear them singing. “We wish you a Merry Christmas!”

Oh, no they don’t. They don’t wish me to have a Merry Christmas. They threw me out in the cold without any food while I listened to them eating. No, they don’t care about me. Just forget about the loving, family cat. He doesn’t matter.

Now they’re opening presents. I can hear them laughing and thanking each other and having a good time. Everyone gets presents, even Baryshnikov the dog. Everyone, that is, except me. What a lousy Christmas!

I paw and scratch at the screen door. “Mew, mew?”

Nothing happens.


Nobody answers my cries. Every time I meow, a cloud of fog comes from my mouth. I’ll probably turn into a frozen cat-sicle by the time someone remembers to let me back inside.

Evidently no one is paying attention to Baryshnikov either. He’s barking up a storm in there. I can hear him clearly all the way out here.


I can’t stand that dog. He would even try the patience of Saint Nicholas himself.


Suddenly the barking stops, and the back door flies open. Baryshnikov sails past my head and lands in the snow, the Christmas snow.

Maybe this Christmas isn’t so bad after all.

This story was written by Rebecca Linam, who teaches German at the University of North Alabama. Her previous work has appeared in "Lights and Shadows," "The Write Place at the Write Time," "Skipping Stones," and "Times Daily." She has also published four novels. For more information, please visit her website at or follow her on Twitter @rebecca_linam.


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