White Elephant

Patty O'Cat

This is not a white elephant; it is a cat. Specifically, it is Patty O’Cat, known more commonly as Miss Kitty, or just Kitty.

Miss Kitty made her grand debut on St. Patrick’s Day 1989. She was probably around a year old and was expecting – as stray cats have a habit of doing. The location of her appearance was Main Street in downtown St. Charles, MO which is known for its cobblestones and quaint shops nestled in historic riverfront buildings.

Patty O’Cat a/k/a Miss Kitty was named for the day she was adopted. She was, in fact, adopted by an antiques shop owner and lived contentedly in the shop until her kittens were old enough to be weaned. When the antiques dealer decided to keep one of the kittens, Miss Kitty moved across the street into an art, hobby and framing shop called Remington’s, because she was quite certain that she was cat enough by herself for any shop – no exceptions.

Roaming the historic district by day, making friends among the shop owners and patrons, Miss Kitty lived contentedly at Remington’s for the next 6 years. She loved the art students who took classes there and fed her tuna from their lunches and she often slept in the sunny storefront windows to entice customers inside. Kitty especially bestowed favor upon the picture framer and could often be found standing on his shoulders as he worked. She had decided he was her person.

So, when the business changed hands in 1995, Miss Kitty went home with her person and lived happily ever after. She had a cat door so that she could come and go at will. She was (to SOME of her people’s horror) one bitchin’ huntress. She never killed senselessly, but ate whatever she caught, which was primarily bunnies and birds. (eek!) She even brought a live bunny in one day and dropped it in her food dish for later. In addition to all the other perks of living in a home in a neighborhood, she enjoyed the benefit of a plethora of sleeping accouterments and locations. And THIS is where the two stories converge…the cat and the white elephant, if you will recall.

One of the last gifties Miss Kitty received was a large, cushy pillow. It was bright orange plush, about 4″ deep, an oval approximately 18″ X 24″. One side was embroidered with the word SWOOSH and some lines suggesting a basketball. She occasionally lay on this pillow, but her life was winding down and she didn’t use it for very long. (I’m glossing over this, because it has been sad thinking about the day we said good-bye to her – 12.13.07.)

A year later, I packaged the Swoosh pillow up to contribute to the annual White Elephant Gift Exchange. If you’ve never done this, it is a game-like exchange of gifts where each person re-gifts something – the more unexpected, the better. We draw numbers and select and open gifts in turn. Any person may opt to open a wrapped gift or steal one already opened by someone else.  The fun is in the stealing and in the surprise of the offerings.

Following is a timeline/outline of the Swoosh in its ongoing gift journey.

** Christmas 2008

–The Swoosh makes its first appearance as a white elephant gift

–received by Kyle

— left behind at Grandma & Grandpa’s house

–Steve says Kyle was sad to leave it behind

–Greg says everyone was teasing him about it – Kyle didn’t want it

**Mid-2009

–a package addressed to Kyle arrives at the Martinelli residence

–the return address is “The White Elephant Shipping Company”

–Greg accuses Steve of sending it

–Steve says White Elephant Shipping Co wanted to right a wrong

**Christmas 2009

–The Swoosh was a white elephant gift – packaged in a smallish box

–received by Nathan

**Christmas 2010

–The Swoosh makes a third Christmas appearance

–received by Steve in a tiny box

–a mere 10-12″ cube, the Swoosh explodes outward on opening

–Nathan elaborates on extreme pillow stuffing into a tiny box

**The Swoosh goes off the grid–moving mysteriously from location to location

–Martinellis discover the Swoosh in their car when they get home

–Steve’s daughter Jessica visits Kyle’s sister Laura

–Jessica is coerced to bring the Swoosh home

–Jessica hides the Swoosh under Steve’s desk

–Laura visits Jessica and is pressured to bring the Swoosh home

–Laura keeps it with her at school instead

–in summer 2012 Laura gives the Swoosh to Grandma & Grandpa

–Grandma & Grandpa visit the Martinellis

–they hide it under Greg’s bed

**Christmas 2012

–a Swoosh-sized box goes to Steve’s wife, Barb

–Barb doesn’t open the box and leaves it behind

–later Greg finds the Swoosh under a car seat and leaves it behind

–then the trail goes cold

**Christmas 2013

–no sign of the Swoosh

Here is the only clue I can offer. As I was hugging Steve good-bye last night, I whispered in his ear, “I know you have the Swoosh.”  He just laughed.

ADDENDUM

When I told Steve I was blogging this. He insisted I thoroughly check the white elephant gift I got last night. It was his old leaf blower. He kept telling me the zipper on the bag was broken and wanted me to look at it. I just ignored him. Tonight he texted me to insist I open the bag… and then I just knew.

The Swoosh is sitting here beside me. It’s in one of those plastic vacuum bags you see advertised on TV to suck down sweaters and blankets for storage.

I guess last night Steve was laughing because he knew I was taking the Swoosh home with me.

Now I feel like Gru (of Despicable Me fame) and must make evil plans for the next step in the Swoosh’s epic journey.

Minions needed.

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