Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Year The Rat Ate Christmas

Once upon a time, about 1996 to be exact, the advent of the Christmas season had begun. We had purchased my grandmother’s old home (built in the early 30’s) the year before, and we had stored our Christmas decorations up in the old secret attic. To get into the attic, you had to brace the ladder on the steep, narrow, wooden stairway, and wrestle with the secret door leading to the attic on the side of the stairwell. As a kid I used to wonder where that secret door led to, imagining all kinds of secret passageways, but I could never reach the dang thing as it was way up high on the wall, at the deepest part of the stairwell, near the ceiling.

My husband Bernard dragged the big ladder into the house, braced it precariously on the stairs, and proceeded to clamper carefully up to the secret door. Twisting the small block of wood to release the hidden wooden door, he worked it open and then handed the heavy wooden panel to me, as I waited below on the stairs. First came the plastic storage container holding the Christmas lights for the tree and for the outside of the house. I carefully took the big box and put it on the floor at the bottom of the stairs in the kitchen. Next, Bernard reached for the white cardboard box, filled with a lifetime’s collection of Christmas ornaments. He didn’t notice as he lifted the box, the small ragged hole at one corner. He picked it up, and began to turn to hand the box down to me. As I stared in horror, I saw a dark, narrow face framed with white whiskers emerge from the hole, followed by a most enormous, huge dark, furry body. All at once, things began to move in slow motion, as the scream began in my throat. I watched my husband move as if in a dance, as the giant rat continued to squeeze through the small hole, and proceed to run up his arm. Auuuugggggghhhhhhhh – the sound ripped through the air straight from the bottom of Bernard’s lungs. He wrenched his arm away from his body, and the Mama Rat was flung writhing through the air, down the stairs – at me~! Still moving in slow motion, I ducked, and Ratty went sailing over my head into the laundry room beyond the bottom of the stairs. Aha! The Dogs, hearing the hullabaloo came dashing down the stairs, and proceeded to tear into the linoleum next to the washer and dryer, digging frantically after the prize. Adrenalin pumping wildly through his veins, Bernard shouted something about getting his gun and blowing the rat to hell, but I managed to stop that before it started (shooting bullets into your own floor isn’t really a prudent idea). After putting the frantic dogs outside, and calming down just a bit, I opened the white cardboard ornament box. Anything which was organic had been eaten. My son Joe’s nursery school macaroni ornament with his picture on it, the salt/flour bull terrier ornaments made with loving care, the unique paper Victorian watercolor house ornaments painted by my artist Aunt, the felt cutout animal ornaments made by the children years ago, the imported salt/clay ornaments given to me by my grandparents each year when I was a child, the yarn God’s Eye craft ornaments woven by little hands, the list was very long… all destroyed. After we had mourned the loss of those irreplaceable memories, we just stared at each other for a moment. We had less than ¼ of our original ornaments left to hang on the tree. Then we started laughing – and from then on, that became known as “The Year the Rat Ate Christmas”.

11 comments:

mergrl said...

thank you Terry, I am sorry you lost your heirlooms but the memories are still there, and now you have one heck of a story to tell.

thanks again for telling me :0)
(hugs)

Trée said...

Terry sorry for your loss but that story was priceless. Did you go for a long ride on the hog to clear your mind?

tsduff said...

Haven't fired her up recently... a bit nippy out just now. Could use the wind in my face though - exhilarating as that is.

Keshi said...

sorry to hear of the loss...but the story was a great read...:)

Keshi.

Autumn Storm said...

Terry, how very sad to have lost those treasures!


...yet because you told the story so well, it was funny too,
but also scary - shivers at the thought of rats staring you in the face, running up arms(yikes)and flying through the air.

mergrl said...

Terry, I wanted to make sure you had this in the morning, I know its not officially your birthday yet, but I am getting ready to turn in. So Happy Birthday my friend :0) I'll keep it quiet, since you don't want a fuss, but I could'nt just let it pass by.

I hope the next year is your best ever, and that you have a wonderful birthday

(((((((Terry)))))))))

Autumn Storm said...

Morning!
Get to wish you again now, lol.
Happy Birthday, x

javajazz said...

Happy Birthday Terry!!!
i love birthdays!
its the only time you can officially
celebrate YOU!!
so in case you're too shy to,
we'll all help you !!
Have a great day,
and a great celebration,
for you are a wonderful person!
xo lisa

Lindsey said...

Rats completely freak me out...no...I can't think about it. Must leave Terry's blog..

sister celtic said...

WELL WE LOST EVERYTHING IN A FLOOD.. I KNOW I KNOW IT WOULD HAVE BEEN BETTER TO HAVE A FIRE...POOF ALL GONE BUT FLOODS OR RATS YOU SEE THE STUFF AND HAVE TO DISPOSE OF IT.. I LAUGHED SO HARD THIS IS REALLY FUNNY.. WHAT ELSE CAN YOU DO BUT MAKE IT A FAMILY FAVORITE STORY..I LOVE IT..

tsduff said...

*whew* glad that day is over. Thanks everyone - Autumn, Lisa, Tracey for easing the bday blues...