Both cats meowed miserably until we walked into the waiting room full of dogs dressed in tartan sweaters, reindeer antlers, etc. Then the cats cowered silently in their cages until it was their turn with Santa. When our family's name was called, we went into a small room decorated with fake trees and sparkly white felt draped around the floor to look like snow drifts. We opened the cats' cages and pulled them out. They wriggled with all of their strength as we brought them towards Santa. Santa remained non-plused throughout this process, counting, it would seem, on some innate cat-charming ability he thought he possessed. He thought wrong. As soon as we handed over Snowflake, she clawed her way up his body and face, leapt over the back of his chair, and scampered beneath a fake tree. As Santa screamed in agony, Mouse went berserk. She wriggled free and raced to the door, looking desperately for a way out. Someone must have decided to come see what the commotion was about, because the door opened and Mouse shot out of the room. Unfortunately, the only place for her to go was the waiting room full of dogs. I found her frozen in the middle of the room. Angry owners whose dogs had gone crazy when a cat ran into the room yelled as I scooped her up and brought her back to Santa's room.
In the meantime, one of my parents had chased Snowflake out from behind the fake tree and she had been captured. The photo that was taken that day betrays more truth than most of us like to see at Christmastime. Both cats' ears are back, their eyes wide, as they're clutched by my sister and myself. Santa appears quite miserable, no doubt questioning his life choices. Ho ho ho.