Right about now, here in the south most of us are beginning to dance around our newly decorated Christmas trees. Dressed in our red checkered pajama pants and t-shirts that fit a little bit more snug than they did only a week ago, we’re all having visions of sugar plums dancing in our turkey-stuffed heads.

While decorating our tree with the kids last week, I was reminded of the year that the wife and I decided that we’d have us a Walton’s mountain Christmas tree. Yep, we’d make most everything by hand. Very few fancy-schmancy store-bought ornaments would dangle from our tree. Today’s millennials would be so Pinterested in what we created that year in our living room.

Since we hadn’t started our family just yet, we had more time on our hands. In that extra time, we sat about making our garland. While we sat by our fireplace and listened to Bing Crosby sing ‘Frosty The Snowman’ we threaded real cranberries and freshly popped popcorn onto long pieces of thread to make our garland. Lights were generously laced into the tree.

The ornaments were homemade gingerbread men and women. My wife had made some ornaments from the previous year’s Christmas cards. We did have a few small bought ornaments that we attached. I specifically recall these clothespins that had a cute smiling mouse sitting on them that we clipped onto the limbs. Red and white striped candy canes and many small red bows finished out the accessorizing of the tree that year.

Finally, it was finished. We drank hot chocolate and sat by the fire in pajamas and proudly beamed over what we were sure would go down in our history as the most amazing Christmas decoration we would ever make. It’s homemade and basic beauty glowed from the corner of our 1980’s country blue living room.

Very soon, it went from the most amazing tree to the most memorable tree event.

A few nights after getting the tree up, I noticed a headless gingerbread man lying helplessly in the floor. We decided it was some fluke in our production efforts. Or he had flung himself from the tree into the living room floor because he was that rebel gingerbread man that a gingerbread girl’s mama would warn her about.

Then a night or so later, we found another. Then another showed up. So, we became suspicious of something nefarious going on in our perfect tree. I recall turning the living room lights off and going to closely inspect the situation.

Walking towards the tree, I was surprised to see what I thought was movement inside of the tree. And then in amongst the wrapped boxes below the tree, I could see pieces of popcorn and cranberries from the garland scattered about. Aha, more evidence of something bad amok in our creation.

As my face got closer to the tree and the cute little mice sitting on clothespins, I found the culprits.

I literally felt my eyes get big when a real mouse was sitting deep inside of the tree on a limb and staring back at me with a ‘you got home early’ look on it’s face. For a second it was funny because he was sitting behind the cute fake mice like he was pretending to be one of the ornaments.

I yelled for my wife to come and see and that loud noise scared him. But not only was it him. It was an entire mouse colony had taken up residence in our Christmas tree. Unknowingly we had offered up a free rodent hotel with a free 24-7 buffet.

With no hesitation, I unplugged our mouse-infested tree and while the wife held the front door open, I drug that tree and it’s nasty little inhabitants out into the yard.

And yet on another year and on another tree, the mice came in and ate the crawdad off of the New Orlean’s Christmas ornament. Turns out when you live in the country, it’s best to drive into town and just buy you some fancy-schmancy ornaments.

Just keep it all plastic. And if the mice start eating through your plastic ornaments, you need to move.

That’s the best that I can tell about it,