Measure Never, Cut Once (or The Beast under the Tree)

Sometimes I use this blog for therapy. This is one of those times.

You’d think that wrapping presents for my kids would be a sedate, enjoyable experience. And for my wife, it was. She’s expert at all things crafty, and has apparently been wrapping presents professionally since infancy. At least, this was my assumption based on the deftness with which she whipped out perfectly wrapped items of such symmetry and beauty that I fancied I’d stepped into a Currier & Ives painting. She did her wrapping on the bed, by the way, while I muddled along on the floor. Kind of like a cut-rate gift-wrapping sweatshop.

But I was doing reasonably well, I really was. Until I got to an item my wife had purchased for my two-year-old daughter.

Enter FurReal Friends Daisy Cat.

Also known as the Feline Spawn of Satan.

The Beast
The Beast

The first problem was the size of the box. It was wide and deep at the bottom and tapered to a point at the top. Now, you might just say, “Hey, Jonathan—that’s called a triangle. What’s the big deal?” Well, let me tell you, Imaginary Peanut Gallery Heckler Jerkwad, it wasn’t at all a perfect triangle. Because there were paws sticking out. That’s right! Near the top, where you’d think you could wrap things into a neat pyramidal point, there were big, fuzzy, eerily realistic paws with unnervingly pink pads staring at me. Taunting me. Presaging for me the horrors that were to come.

So yeah, I erred in the amount of paper I needed. No problem, I figured. Just use another piece of paper, match the stripes, and it’ll look halfway decent. Or as presentable as the other stuff I wrapped (I swear that wasn’t a pun!).

And it looked halfway decent (if “halfway decent” means a nightmarish snarl of lines and creases and holes). Truthfully, it looked like a Brothers Grimm witch interpreted by a German Expressionist filmmaker in the grip of a sinister LSD hallucination. But hey, it was wrapped, right?

Suuuuure, it was wrapped. It was wrapped until the freaking cat came to life like some monster I’d just entombed!

The Deceiver in Its Lair
The Deceiver in Its Lair

It began by meowing. Like the doomed protagonist of a Poe tale, I stared at the package in horror. Then it actually began pawing at the paper enshrouding it. My mouth dry, I started to back away. Then—and I wish I were making this up—the infernal beast thrust against the paper hard enough to rip the tape open.

I quivered. I grew pale.

Within moments, the cat’s sinister visage was glaring at me from its nest of torn paper. It meowed in accusation. And the paws…the paws! I shall never forget the sight of those hideous paws!

And the worst of it is, this hellish fiend was cast off by my two-year-old daughter. It was as though some finely tuned sense of good and evil in her alerted my daughter to the true nature of the beast under the tree.

And now, the fell feline awaits me somewhere in the house. If I awake tonight with the beast tearing my flesh to ribbons, let this be my final testament. Please protect my wife and children from the creature’s wrath. Let my sacrifice not have been in vain.

With a trembling heart, I descend the stairs to the beast’s lair. Wish me Godspeed…


10 thoughts on “Measure Never, Cut Once (or The Beast under the Tree)

  1. Lol! I almost bought this for my 6 year old. I walked around Target for all of 15 minutes with the cat in my cart and people staring me down and literally jumping back in shock from the meowing coming from my direction. I happily detoured back to the toy section, returned the cat to the shelf, and finished my shopping in peace. 5 days later, my 6 year old received that same cat. Thank you, Grandma! Anyway, I feel your pain!


    1. Hah! You can always count on grandparents to come through with the most torturous gifts, right? 🙂

      Thank you, Mandalynn, for letting me know I’m not the only victim of the beast. Perhaps, united, we will one day stand against its furry wrath!


    1. Wow, thank you for sharing! And thanks so much for saying that about my writing. As you can tell, this incident shook me to the core. I’m still throwing furtive glances over my shoulder and awaiting the wrath of the beast…


  2. Best thing you’ve ever written. Well, almost. ;). I think the Children would be terrified of the Satanic Robo-Feline, don’t ya think?


  3. You’re welcome! My five year old step daughter has this lifelike toy baby that moves its arms and legs, opens its eyes and makes cooing baby sounds when its held. A few times, out of the blue, while laying discarded on the floor, it would do that…creepy!


  4. Hysterical! This year, my 14 year old only wanted band t shirts (she got about a dozen). Very easy to wrap. 16 year old wanted a new cell phone and some clothes and books. Again, easy peasy. I miss and don’t miss the days and nights of trying to put together plastic kitchen sets, scooters and play sets.


    1. Dude…the assembly is beyond brutal. You need to share more of these tidbits with me. They’ll help assuage my constant my-kids-are-growing-up-too-fast panic. A cell phone does sound a heck of a lot easier than a six-thousand piece Lego set.


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