My Favorite Christmas Decoration

No, it’s not a miniature disco ball (even if they are my signature baby shower gift). Nor is it a heavily-plumaged bird of paradise. It doesn’t sparkle or glow, flutter in the slightest breeze, or move of its own accord. There is no electricity or batteries needed, and no assembly is required.

It is the simple mouse house seen here, worn and torn after three decades of attic storage. Made of an old bark-covered log, hollowed out in certain sections (where the mice are supposed to live), it is a rather sorry piece of my childhood, but for precisely that reason it is my favorite. A segment of the roof is missing, as are a few of the decorations (as evidenced by the glue that once held their bases).

Back when I was kid, this piece completely enraptured me, capturing my imagination and igniting thoughts of cozy, fire-crackling scenes of cuddly forest animals, huddled together in their trees, safe from the winter snow. It was a vision of comfort, along with the connotation of safety and warmth, and, above all else, it was a vision of family. I longed for a house filled with such warmth. Sometimes it was, sometimes it wasn’t – but the mouse house was never-changing. A small wire tree or disproportionate kitten figurine might break off, but the core – raw, splintered, and unfinished – remained intact throughout the years.

To this day, gazing at that decoration makes me feel a little happier, a little warmer, and a little closer to the elusive holiday spirit of the season.

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