This has been sort of an odd holiday season. I didn’t put up my tree, since it just seemed like something else I’ll have to pack and move soon. The only decorating I did was draping the pink and turquoise funky Christmas quilt my mom made me over the back of the couch.
And the shopping? Well, it’s been minimal. In less than two weeks, My Guy and I will own a grand total of three houses. The new house is our gift to each other. And most other folks? Well, the gifts are mostly from our hearts, not from our wallets. Which makes me feel a teensy bit guilty.
All in all, it just seems to be a holiday season in flux. But it makes me think of one of my favorite Christmases ever.
When I was 3, my parents built the home they still occupy. All spring and summer were filled with wonderful adventures. When the cement guys had sand down as a base for the concrete garage floor? I walked across it with my sandals, leaving ice cream cone imprints. Yes, I’ve always had an eye for décor. And all of the cabinets for the new house? Well, they came in the most wonderful boxes. I had multiple houses, and my tricycle had a garage. Don’t even get me started on my Shangri-La in what would become the kitchen sink cabinet.
My folks sold their old house, and the closing was before the new house was ready. So, we moved into a rental, and all of our stuff moved into storage. I remember that the rental house had brown shag carpet, and I remember that was the Halloween I dressed as an artist. My mom’s memories differ a bit.
According to my sweet mama, the house had been empty, and so it was overrun with mice. She and I would sit on the couch and watch the mice run across the floor, and I was not allowed to play on the floor. One day, my dad came home and asked innocently, “Honey? Why is your snow boot in the front yard?” And my mom answered, “There was a mouse in it. And don’t even bother bringing it back in, because I’m never wearing it ever again.”
You get the picture.
There were traps. And mice were captured. But we’re talking a lot of freakin’ mice. And my mom wanted nothing to do with the mice removal. So, my dad devised an easy system – he flushed the dead mice. All of them.
The new house was coming along, and I got to play on the carpet there, even though carpet time was strictly forbidden in the rental. We were going to move in to the new house around the first of the year. Well, until The Incident.
Evidently, flushing mice is not a plumbing maintenance best practice.
The sewer backed up into the basement of the rental house. Raw sewage and hundreds – nay, thousands – of bloated mice corpses covered the floor.
If she wouldn’t wear a snow boot that had contained a live mouse, you can bet my mama wasn’t going to stay in a house with our own version of The River Styx in the basement.
We moved into our new house two days before Christmas. I don’t remember any furniture, but I remember we had a tree. And lots of snow.
I remember sitting in my mom’s lap on the floor of our new living room, admiring the tree and looking out the window onto our new yard. And I felt so content.
That Christmas, Santa brought me a coloring book, a box of 64 Crayolas, a baby doll, and a boat.
Well, I thought it was a boat. It was a red plastic sled. In the photos, I look so completely satisfied in my orange footie pajamas – almost smug. All was right with my world, even if we didn’t have furniture or front steps or a kitchen counter.
I’m trying to take that memory with me into this season, and into the adventure of imperfect home ownership that My Guy and I are about to enjoy. Because later? All of the imperfections will seem perfect.
Case in point? After Christmas, my dad took the Christmas tree and just threw it off the front porch, where the steps should have been. And left it there until April, proudly announcing that The Clampetts had moved into the neighborhood.