As a child Christmas was a magical time filled with family, friends, celebration and traditions. Since my birthday is on December 25, Christmas Day, I think my parents worked extra hard to make sure I didn’t feel slighted or disappointed. They succeeded in building beautiful childhood memories for me and making me feel extra special during the month of December. Anytime I am feeling sad I simply recall my childhood Christmases and I am instantly transported back to a happier time and place.
Now that Lillian is old enough to create Christmas memories of her own, Ken and I created some new traditions with her along with passing on some of the Christmas traditions I grew up with as a child.
This year I shared the story of Santa Mouse with Lillian and her friends. A few days before Christmas I hosted a Christmas party for the “library girls.” Feeling rather brave, I invited eight two-year olds over for a Christmas themed play date. I wish I could say I handled all eight by myself but I need to add that their mommies were also invited. After feasting on bagels and fruit, playing with cinnamon scented play dough and coloring Christmas images, I invited everyone to sit around the Christmas tree in our great room and I began reading the book, “Santa Mouse.”
“Santa Mouse” was written by Michael Brown in 1966. The story is about a tiny mouse with no name who lived a very lonely life in a very big house. He loved Christmas dearly and had a special present for Santa. When he gave Santa his prized possession he was named Santa’s helper. The book reminds the children that if they leave a piece of cheese under the tree Santa Mouse will thank them. I shared with the children that when I was a child, along with Santa’s milk and cookies, I always left a tiny piece of cheese under the tree. In return Santa Mouse left me a small present wrapped in shiny gold paper. The present was always hidden in the Christmas tree. I asked them if they could spy a gold package and a few of the children eventually discovered a sparkly gold box with a gold bow under the tree. I had one of the girls open up the box to reveal a little stuffed Santa for each guest to take home.
My dad was introduced to Santa Mouse while working in the shoe department at JC Penney’s while in college. One December the department store used Santa Mouse in their Christmas marketing and that is when my dad acquired the Santa Mouse book and ornament. Burl Ives recorded a song about Santa Mouse and Michael Brown wrote two additional Santa Mouse books. Long after my childhood days were behind me, my family and I never spent a Christmas where we didn’t open a present wrapped in gold paper from Santa Mouse. And now we are delighted to share the Santa Mouse tradition with Lillian and her friends, the next generation of Santa Mouse believers. Although Santa Mouse is unknown to many and never became as famous as Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, in my family he was never forgotten and was loved just as much.