Christmas Bells


Wrote and published this in 2009. It still cracks me up.

When buying Christmas candy this year, I included a personal favorite of mine, those little bell-shaped chocolates with slivers of Butterfingers mixed in. They’re so festive and seductive in their gold, red and green foil wrappings, I couldn’t resist sampling one (okay, two) before hiding them in the attic that night. The next day, while wrapping Christmas gifts, I felt a hankering for just one more. I unlocked the attic, stumbled among the empty boxes and discarded junk until I found the bag I’d hidden.

The bag was empty.

I shuffled around more, thinking that maybe I’d found last year’s depleted bag, because a bag full of Christmas bells just can’t disappear. But searching produced nothing else. I crumpled the empty bag in my hand, marched downstairs and thrust it at my husband. His blank expression proved his innocence.

“Twelve hours ago, this bag was full,” I insisted. “I’d only taken two.”

He shrugged in a bemused fashion. “I had no idea you’d bought them.”

“That’s because I hid them.”

We mulled over this puzzle and agreed there was no way our son could have gotten into the attic in the past twelve hours, nine of which he’d spent sleeping. We trooped back upstairs and into the attic to further investigate.

Five minutes later I found a clue: a few tiny, black pellets, in the white plastic sack the bag of bells had been sitting in. Closer inspection revealed a hole in one corner of the bag, shredded by tiny masticating jaws.


Which means that, in the course of one night, the mice had silently removed the bells, every last one of them. Twenty-two, perhaps.

Even faced with such incriminating evidence, no other possible explanation, I could hardly wrap my mind around it. I visualized those mice, a line of busily working creatures, like ants. Did they carry them in their paws while walking? Drag them behind them? Create some little sleigh-like transporting device? I felt like an unwitting character in a Nutcracker production, the oblivious adult who sleeps while the mice, having sprung to giant proportions, wage noisy war against those guarding the house (the stuffed animals? the cats? Lego toy soldiers?).

The mice won. Big time.

I should be sort of creeped out. We’ve heard mice in the house before, scratching around. We’ve trapped them (humanely, I promise) and released them far from our house. But that was a year ago. No noises since then. These bell-stealers we definitely have not heard. Even now, fortified by chocolate, they are not making any noise as they move about in the attic, the eaves, the house’s invisible nooks and crannies.

I imagine those mice right now, huddled silently around this towering pile of gold, red and green bells, staring awestruck at this enormous treasure that will sustain them for a long time to come. A Christmas gift they hadn’t expected, one I certainly hadn’t planned to give.

Darned if it doesn’t give me that warm Christmas feeling.

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6 thoughts on “Christmas Bells”

  1. Thanks so much for commenting, MarySue, Grace and Kathleen!

    Grace – this year the bells are in a bag in my walk-in closet area, so the rodents that will have access will include my cats (yes, #2 is a rodent; I’d swear) and my 14 yr old son. We’ll see how many days the bag lasts. Occasionally I’ll here little scamper sounds in the attic, and think, sorry guys, that one year was it for you. But, boy. What a good year it was for you, huh?

    Kathleen – happily I didn’t have to investigate the answer to your query.

  2. Funny! =)

    Mice don’t last long in my house – we have excellent hunters in our 3 kitties! However, delicious Christmas treats like your bells don’t tend to last, either, because one of said kitties is a cupboard opener and snack stealer. He prefers bread products, but will not turn up his whiskers at chocolate pretzels either!

    Hope you had a Merry Christmas, and got to enjoy your favorite treats!

    • >…one of said kitties is a cupboard opener and snack stealer. He prefers bread products, but will not turn up his whiskers at chocolate pretzels either!

      Oh, kitteacat, that’s hilarious! He actually opens the cupboard?! I’m cracking up at the image. Bread products – who woulda thought it? One cat of ours liked my pasta sauce. And he’s crazy about corn. I can’t figure that one out. But a funny story your comments brought up – our first kitty turned out to be a mouser, and when he was still tiny, he stalked and killed a mouse in the utility room he sleeps in at night. When I went into the room the next am, he was all excited and I didn’t know why. I saw what I thought was his mouse toy atop a pile of clean laundry, and boy, was it a jolt to realize OMG, it was a real mouse (dead) and our little kitten was a true savage beastie.

      He’s 16 yrs old right now and limping and only wants to hang out by the heater. But he’s our original savage beastie. … Ah, the memories…


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