Early Christmas Morning
I have come to the conclusion that it is my lifelong fate to wake up at dawn on Christmas Day. First it was my father who used to wake us at the crack of birdsong as he rampaged up and down the hallway on Christmas morning in his pyjamas and his Christmas hat with a pillowcase over his shoulder yelling, "HO, HO, HO," at the top of his voice, keen to get at his Christmas presents and begin consuming fruitcake and ice cream for breakfast (we had pillowcases as children instead of stockings. Anyone else, or was that just us? You can fit a lot of goodies in a pillowcase).
Then, of course, children came along and there was years of dawn Christmases right there. This year, though, it was the cat. At a quarter to five the cat bounced into my bedroom with her mouth full of mouse, like a furry sandwich. This isn't the first time this has happened. The routine involves dropping the mouse into my shoe collection which is stored under an open shelf in the corner of the room. The mouse then escapes under the shoes and the cat gets to play that perennial classic, Find the Mouse.
Usually during this game I move all the shoes, find the mouse and return it to the wild. But it was a quarter to five in the morning. I endured ten minutes of the cat pouncing and the mouse squeaking before getting up and opening the door next to my bed that leads to the side garden. The mouse, however, decided to make a bid for freedom under my bed. I endured another ten minutes of pouncing, rustling and banging before getting up to investigate. Under my bed I have stored a bolt of block-out curtain fabric in a long, narrow plastic bag. Very long, the length of the bed. The mouse had somehow run inside the plastic bag and the cat was perplexed. She could see the mouse, but she couldn't catch the mouse. How is this so? her little cat mind enquired. When in doubt, though, pounce, her little cat mind answered. So she did. Lots.
I hauled the curtain fabric in its plastic bag out from under the bed and took it outside to the garden, where all the birds in the world were Christmas carolling their heads off, and I shook the bag to tip the mouse out. Except I shook it the wrong way and I just shook the mouse into the bottom of the bag. Finally I managed to tip the whole thing the other way and the mouse scurried away into the undergrowth to enjoy its Christmas Day breakfast instead of being Christmas Day breakfast.
Back to bed then, but not to sleep, because the cat did not believe that the mouse was gone. She hunted for it all over the room until I got up again and fed her, not a mouse, but cat kibble. Which she prefers, really. She thinks mice are sport, not food.
After that, the day got much less exciting, but more relaxing. Turns out a sandwich for Christmas in the bush is just lovely and calm and joyous.
Since Christmas I have been pottering in the garden and cleaning out cupboards. There are cupboards here that I filled up with random collections of precious treasures when I moved in four years ago, and have not touched since, so I have been doing some clearing out and moving things along, or in some cases, redecorating with bits and pieces I have found. For instance, a stick shaped like an elbow.
A row of pigs.
And an orphaned babushka doll. Luckily, there is a happy ending. I found an adoptive family for her.
I also found a box of the children's baby teeth and one of my favourite treasures - a little paper origami box made by The Girl, containing a kiss from Red when they were six. The kiss is carefully preserved for all time inside layers of sticky tape.