I muse over obtaining the perfectly selected collection of Christmas gifts for my family. Each thoughtfully purchased at a local shop or holiday craft fair, lovingly wrapped, adorned with a beautiful gift card and matching ribbon . . . but more importantly, I eagerly anticipate the gifts that will be purchased for me. Yes, I realize this is the season of giving and I well recall it is far better to give than receive, but I can’t abandon my childhood dream of waking up early on Christmas morning to see what was there for me. Whilst everyone else was sleeping off eggnog and holiday ham, I’d tiptoe into the living room to spy the Frasier Fir, laden with matching department store ornaments and a sprinkling of homemade decorations that were lovingly crafted around our kitchen table. There, beneath the boughs of that mighty symbol of all things Christmas, I further daydreamed of finding boxes galore of pretty packages with my name on them, containing the gloves and matching cashmere scarves, the books I’d been talking about, or perhaps a handmade writing journal. But, alas, those are not the realities of Christmas at the Page household. I chuckle at the thought of anything carefully wrapped, laugh out loud at the unrealistic ideals of a handmade anything – except for perhaps the few surviving ornaments that my grown children made in grade school.
Oh, we do usually manage the tree. But last year, the tree we bought from Whole Foods came complete with a very cute, very terrified field mouse that had made the long trip from the North Carolina mountains to the parking lot at Page’s Thieves Market, where my brother Mike kindly agreed to help me trim the bottom. The mouse was rescued by my kindhearted daughter, Audrey, and all was well with the world. The mouse also made quite a splash on my Facebook page. I felt smug about the whole ordeal until the mouse escaped the lopsided cardboard box we had deemed his new home, then one of the many feral cats that live at Page’s decided we had brought him an early Christmas feast.
Sorry. I know this is not an uplifting Christmas story, but I believe there is more to Christmas than gifts, or in this case, the mouse. My daughter was mortified by the untimely death of the very cute and very terrified field mouse, yet instead of letting the events ruin her day – she and our friend, Christian, decided to immortalize the poor mouse by making a chalk outline at the scene of the crime. I’m not sure if any of our customers understood, but it certainly helped lighten the mood.
Christmas at my house is memorable, though not lavish and never matching. My (long since ex) husband decided one year that the perfect gift was a vacuum cleaner. I was a young bride and not very happy with his choice, so I raised my children to make sure than when they selected a gift for someone it should not be utilitarian, but come from the heart. So, my parting thought is this….regardless of your traditions, regardless of the reality of what this season means to you and yours, remember: Don’t just live, create a life.