Toy mice and treasured family memories are part of decorating our tree every year at Christmas. Like the Drum Major mouse in the picture, there are several mouse ornaments we take out every year.
It Started for Want of a Wind-Up Mouse
My daughter must have been about three or four when I read Leo Lionni’s Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse to her. It is about about Willie, the wind-up mouse everybody loves. The very real Alexander, on the other hand, is chased with a broom and made to feel unwelcome and unwanted. He wonders what it would be like to be loved, cuddled, and appreciated.
That Christmas my daughter asked if Santa Claus would bring her a wind-up mouse. It sounded like an easy request for Santa. We had every confidence he would deliver. We checked on wind-up mice in Baltimore–in case Santa needed any assistance. They weren’t to be found. Coincidentally, my husband and I were making a trip to New York. We felt sure Santa would appreciate the help. We planned to have a look around.
I can’t count the number of toy stores we visited. Even the famous FAO Schwarz store on Fifth Avenue couldn’t help us. Nobody, but NOBODY, had a wind-up mouse.
So What Was Santa to Do?
Santa Claus left Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Two Bad Mice and two very nice little life-sized stuffed mice who were perfect stand-ins for Hunca Munca and Tomb Thumb. Santa also left a slightly larger stuffed mouse that seemed like a good companion for Alexander, another Alexander book, and a little stuffed mouse Christmas Tree ornament.
I was never sure whether my daughter felt as disappointed as we did over Santa’s depleted wind-up mouse supply. Sometime in her older childhood years a wind-up mouse made its way into her collection. And for just about every remaining year of her childhood, a new stuffed mouse graced our tree. Toy mice and treasured family memories are part of our every Christmas.