Our Christmas Mouse

A boy and his dog are bringing home the perfect Christmas tree.


Traditions change, and as time goes by, some things that we used to do for the holiday season become only memories. One of those traditions that doesn't seem to be a part of Christmas anymore is going out and scouring the countryside for just the right tree. When I was growing up, and even when our children were small, cedar trees were most often used to brighten our homes for the holidays. Occasionally a pine tree would find its way into some homes. During the time our children were growing up, we would all go out in search of the perfect tree, a trip that would sometimes take almost an entire day. My husband was, and still is, very picky when it comes to finding just the right tree. Not just any size or shape would do. Sometimes we searched for hours before one that met his approval could be located. We would all come home completely worn out at the end of these adventures. A couple of years ago, my husband and I introduced our granddaughter, Alexis, to going in search of a perfect Christmas tree, and she didn't like it at all. Getting snagged by saw briars was definitely not her idea of fun, but we managed somehow to get our mission accomplished in spite of her long face.

I have a lot of very happy memories about the Christmas seasons we observed when our children were small. Our first home was a two bedroom trailer that after our family grew to include two sons and one daughter, was remodeled into a two-and-a-half bedroom home. After our daughter started to walk, we took about one third of our living room and made a small bedroom to accommodate her baby bed, leaving just enough room for her to play in that small space too. Every year at Christmas, our long-sought-after-absolutely-perfect tree nearly always took up most of the floor space in our living room, but was a beautiful sight, we thought, when the lights were plugged in each night. I have a very favorite memory of one Christmas in particular just before we moved from our first home into a new one. That year, the kids and I strung together a box of Trix cereal to make a garland. We had a lot of fun making this very colorful addition for our tree, but one morning just a day or two after we placed it on the tree, we noticed the string wasn't as long as it was when first placed there. The next day, the string was even shorter. We couldn't figure out what was going on until my husband looked to see if he could solve the mystery. He did, of course. By looking closely at the string, he discovered that we had a mouse. And not only did we have a mouse, but one that was climbing up in the tree every night after we were all in bed and was helping himself to our beautiful, homemade garland. We didn't have the heart to set a trap for him, and by the time Christmas came and went, the mouse had managed to eat almost the entire garland.

A cedar is still the tree of choice of my family, but I don't necessarily agree with that. I prefer a pine because of the branchy limbs that are much easier to decorate. Our son out in Texas would still go out a cut a cedar if they grew out there like they do here, but that choice is not a favorable one at his house either. I have a friend who detests a cedar tree and describes their aroma in a very unfavorable way. Her description has something to do with cats.

We have not yet gone this year in search of that perfect tree, but any day now, we'll load up and head out. I wonder what the choice will end up being this year, pine or cedar? One thing I am completely sure of is that we'll look very closely to see that it does not contain what might be mistaken for a pine cone, but turns out to be a praying mantis nest. I don't plan on another Christmas with those little unexpected visitors again. The Christmas mouse who ate Trix cereal would be more to my liking.