A holiday tale about a young girl and her cat… a Dread Holiday tale. Parents, please read this yourselves before sharing with your children.Read Story
Astrid balanced carefully in the narrow shelf covering the radiator in her window. Outside the snow danced in quick gusts and eddies. It was just before midnight on Christmas Eve and her first in Canada. The transition to Toronto had been hard, but her Mother’s enthusiasm to be back in her native land had been infectious. Now Astrid was getting used to the funny clipped English language of the mixed, myriad of cultures that walked Toronto’s streets.
“Meow?” Asked her cat, Jóla.
He sat on the floor next to the radiator, black tail wrapped around his perfect black paws. He had come with them from Iceland too, a proper Scandinavian Forrest cat, with a thick winter coat and an impressive grey main setting off golden eyes. Her father had insisted on the name, short for Jólakötturinn. The Yule Cat. It was one of the Icelandic legends that had scared her most as a child, the giant, house sized cat that ate all the children from families who hadn’t worked hard enough to afford new Christmas clothes. A precautionary fable underlining the strong work ethic of the Icelandic people, and the importance of passing items no longer needed to those less fortunate. She and her mother had gone through their drawers just the day before and taken a large box to the local shelter, as her Dad whistled the Yule Cat Poem in the background.
She shifted her feet under her to make room for the cat. He hopped up in a fluid jump and put a tentative paw on the window. Astrid cracked it open for him. Jóla reached out with a practised paw and pulled it open a little wider, just enough to allow his whiskers through, and was gone into the storm. She left the window open, enjoying the feel of the cold, the light sting of swirling flakes hitting her face. She pulled up the thick hood of the new robe that had been her early present.
Across the alley she could see a faint light in her neighbour’s window. He was a nice enough boy, obsessed with Lego and Star Wars. He had proudly shown her his early present when she was in their yard that evening. A new spaceship set with over 1000 pieces. He had been glowing with happiness, but when she said Icelandic early presents were always clothes, he said scornfully, “That’s lame! My parents wouldn’t dare give me clothes,”
Now she stared at his window, thinking about The Jólakötturinn, wondering if he was stalking the Reykjavik streets. Suddenly, she saw a large black shape move past the light, it looked cat shaped, ears set low, hunting. A short scream of fright was cut off abruptly and then there was silence.
A few moments later Jóla appeared in her window dusted with white snow. He wove through her legs and settled next to her on the narrow shelf. The large cats eyes were bright with mischief, and just below his chin, on his impressive main was a smear of pink in the white snow. Jóla purred, and proceeded to lick himself clean.