We were evacuated from our home in July, 2016 for a wildfire that threatened nearby.  We’ve been well aware of the dangers of wildfire since we moved to our home in Nederland, and had prepared “fire boxes” in the event of an evacuation.  Fire boxes consist of the items we consider irreplaceable in the event our  home burned down — personal mementos, photos that we don’t have digital copies of, and other items.

In one of our fire boxes are Christmas ornaments.  Since I was a child, I’ve either been given or collected Christmas ornaments from around the country.  As a child, my parents used to give my brother and I an ornament each Christmas by our parents — some corny, like a small Rudolph the reindeer, and others to remember things of a personal nature like our family golden retriever.

As Bryon and I have taken trips to places like Iceland, Hawaii, California and other places, I buy an ornament to remember our trip and our time together.  So in fact, these ornaments are of a very sentimental to me and can’t be replaced if they were to be burned to ash.

So each year, I’ve relished putting up our Christmas tree this time of year, hanging these ornaments, remembering special times in my life as I do.  Often, our tree has come from our own property, as we designated certain trees a needing to be mitigated for wildfire purposes, and using it for our family Christmas tree.

We’ve done such a good job mitigating the property, we’ve started to run out of trees to cut, and last year resorted to just purchasing one in Boulder like most people do at Christmas.  But this year, though we hung the lights outside and donned the front door with the evergreen wreath and bow, we didn’t put up the Christmas tree.

We’re not lazy, nor are we boycotting the spirit of Christmas.  No, this year we made a conscious decision not to put up a tree for a very different reason, because of a new addition to our family.

In the wake of losing two of our old cats the last two years, we finally made the decision to adopt a new kitty.  We went to the Humane Society in Boulder and brought home an 8-week old tabby kitten, naming him Simba.

He has been everything we could want as a feline companion.  He’s adventurous, playful, but incredibly social, loving to hang out with the humans in the household, nuzzling his face into our lap as we type on the computer or watch television.  He’s turned into an excellent mouser, chasing bugs, and apparently the mice, as they’ve since disappeared since he’s made his home here.

But as a strapping tom cat, he’s now grown into 13 pounds and still getting bigger, and loves to chase, and play games.  To the point, where he’s dragged the entire tablecloth along with dishes off our dining room table, as well as chasing a moth across our vanity, sending toothbrushes and bottles flying onto the bathroom floor.  When I take the top off a bottle in the kitchen, he quickly grabs it and makes off with it, batting it around the floor.

He adores the 6- foot cat tower we have in our loft, and loves chasing our other cat Dora across the living room.  We could only imagine what would happen if we put up a Christmas tree and what incredible temptation it would provide to him to climb it and then bat at the ornaments hanging off its branches.  We knew we would come home to find shiny balls and trinkets smashed around the floor.

And so, for this year, we’ve chosen to decorate with other things and enjoy Christmas without the tree.  With luck, he will mature enough by next year to perhaps not destroy a Christmas tree.  Or perhaps, we will decorate the tree with only lights and the few soft ornaments we have.  But this year, our greatest gift is enjoying the antics of Simba and the gift of companionship and amusement he brings us each day.