You know you love a pet when you'll let it destroy the one thing you've wanted for ages....and instantly forgive them.
Growing up in a Jewish household, I'd never had a Christmas tree ... but had always wanted one. They're bright, they signal a happy time of year, and they have presents underneath: what's not to like?
Moving in with my partner-at-time changed all that. She's from a Christian background and, although not overly religious, absolutely loves Christmas.
So, it was with great joy that - at the start of our first December in the flat - we bought a B & Q fake christmas tree: sparkly white, plus we covered it in blue flashing lights and about 50 baubles. We didn't want a real tree as the needles would drop everywhere, and I couldn't be bothered to spend December hoovering.
The fake tree was a bit of a pain to put up as it came in (seemingly) hundreds of different sections, but it looked great when it was complete.
It was only a week later when, having made up our minds at the cat rescue centre, we brought Bruce home. He was very confused, coming into a new home, and spent most of the first 48 hours hiding behind a sofa. I'd formed the opinion that maybe he was just timid.
How very wrong I was.
About four days after arriving in the flat, Bruce discovered the Christmas tree. He'd sit in front of it, tail swishing, marvelling at what he saw as a giant cat toy.
He'd finally single out one of the 50 baubles and start swatting it with his paw: at first, tentatively, then with more gusto, when it didn't respond. He would do this until it fell off, then bat it round the room. After a while, I'd get up, take the bauble off him, and say 'no Brucey', before hanging it back on the tree. He'd look at me, wide eyed, as if he might understand... then pick another bauble.
This was all mildly amusing, while watching the TV. It was less amusing between the hours of 1am - 3am. The pattern was: I'd hear a faint tinkling, in the lounge, then a bouncing sound as a bauble dropped. Then 'clonk', at 20 second intervals, as Bruce played his own version of football. I'd get out of bed, find him running after the bauble, and pick it up. He'd look at me expectantly, thinking I was ready to play, with no concept of 'I have to get up for work in a few hours'. When I took the bauble away, he'd look disappointed. Within 10 minutes he'd be playing with another one.
I soon put a stop to this, and the lounge door was keep shut at night, so that Bruce couldn't access the tree, and Sal and I could sleep. Unfortunately, this left Bruce with less space, increased his boredom, and meant that he started finding pens, around the flat, and chasing them up and down the hallway.
As a happy medium, it was decided that Bruce could have access to the lounge - and therefore the tree - during the day (he was still an 'indoor cat' at this point), and play with the baubles to his heart's content. It seemed like a great idea.
The first day that he was allowed to do this I came home, full of Christmas spirit, walked through the front door, into the lounge, to be faced with... utter carnage!
The tree was scattered, in bits, across the whole room. When I say 'the whole room' I mean in every single corner. So total was the destruction, that it looked like there were now more parts to the tree than when it was put up. There had been a complete bauble massacre too. I think five were left attached to the tree. The rest were under the sofa, behind the TV, in the hall etc.
In the middle of this mess, looking a bit bored, sat Bruce. I looked at him. He weighed about 2 kilos at this point. How had he destoyed a whole Christmas tree?
I put my hand to my forehead, sighed, and said 'oh Bruce'. He responded with his 'hi' miaow, then started rubbing against my legs for some attention. Only a cat would try this...
I smiled, shook my head, and stroked his head. This is what I mean: instantly forgiven.
I decided, with Sal, to put the tree back up again. For some reason, I don't think we thought he could do the same thing twice.
He did do the same thing twice.... the very next day.
I have a picture of the Christmas tree, just after Bruce destroyed it, somewhere. Can't find it at the moment so, for now.....