29 November 2009

A mouse ate my Christmas tree

The festive season is all about traditions, old and new. Becoming a parent means that you get to create customs for your new family and I went about this quite consciously when we had our first child. One thing I bought was a re-usable cloth Advent calendar in the form of a Christmas tree, which I thought would make a good leading-up-to-Christmas tradition for us to have, many years into the future.

This is how the calendar looked at Christmas 2005. You can see that there are small cloth decorations for each of the days before Christmas.

We've used it for ten years now and it is as popular with the children as I'd hoped it would be. I was consequently horrified this morning to find that it had been well and truly nibbled by a mouse. The middle section of the tree was ruined and the lower part of the numbered pouches that hold the ornaments had been badly damaged, with the figures 22 and 23 missing.

Now needlework is not something I can claim to be any good at. My mum had to invent a dentist's appointment for me when I was fourteen so that I could avoid the last dressmaking lesson of the year. I'd managed to completely ruin the blouse I was supposed to be making and couldn't face admitting it in front of the rest of the class. I've never enjoyed sewing since, so the prospect of making good this ruined tree did not appeal.

Luckily the ornaments were in fairly good shape, although the Noel heart at the bottom of this photo had been chewed upon and one of the others, a striped candy cane, had disappeared completely. Spookily, the candy cane was one of only two ornaments that represented something edible. This mouse was clearly smarter than the average rodent.

I was loth to throw the whole thing away and it did look as though it might be salvageable. There's me trying to lead a more self-sufficient and sustainable lifestyle, I thought. I should be able to do this, just on principle!

I cut the damaged middle section of the tree out and re-sewed the top to the lower half. It makes the tree look slightly squat, but at least it's in one piece again. The lower part was more tricky, as first I had to patch it with green cotton (taken from the back of the removed middle section) and then create a new red part for the pouches. Child #2 had an old red t-shirt of roughly the right colour, so I used that. I knew that I'd never get the numbers to look right, as I didn't have any white embroidery thread, so I used plain white cotton and they now look decidedly rustic:

At least it's now usable again. I just have to find a replacement for the stolen candy cane. I even managed to mend my broken heart:

I'm hoping that my amateurish repairs will become a new part of this particular Christmas tradition: "Do you remember the year when a mouse ate our Christmas tree?".

POSTSCRIPT: The morning after I wrote this I had an idea for a replacement for the candy cane ornament. Using the old red t-shirt again, half a tissue, a piece of velcro from an old pair of my son's shorts and a piece of ribbon from my (sparsely equipped) sewing box I came up with this:

1 comment:

Emily said...

Nice job taking a risk and repairing your advent calendar. I'd like to get one like that someday soon.