I had an Adirondack animal-themed Christmas. It is nothing new. There was the baby Jesus at that first Christmas surrounded by animals. It appears that lately animals have been in the news for a variety of reasons and, with our squirrel and other animal neighbors, they have garnered my attention.
The Christmas tree became a good place to start with an animal-themed holiday. When a bear came out of the fresh-cut Christmas tree in a TV show, it was recommended that the tree should be checked for animals before it was brought into the house. I did the opposite; I decided to add animals to our tree. I found a string of tree lights that were flying mallard ducks. The 10 lighted ducks were placed around the top of the tree under the lighted star. The middle section of the tree abounded with lighted white-tailed deer running through the green "woods." Swimming around the bottom of the tree on the lower branches were 10 lighted trout, jumping out of the water. You might say that the tree (imagination) became an Adirondack forested mountain tree complete with a wood-ringed lake.
An important part of the "animal Christmas" was the large and stately moose, who found a home in the Adirondacks. When I ground up the raw-beef "heck-u-la," the old Concordia Club recipe, I wore my bright red and black moose-themed apron -- a previous Christmas gift. I also got to wear it when I beat the eggs and cream for the traditional eggnog. The moose had been on my mind after reading that global warming was chasing them out of the Adirondacks to Canada. The migration into New York state is slowing down and not reaching expectations while they are going to the north where it is cooler. We may see the day, once again, when all we have are memories of Adirondack moose. When I did a TV show in the 1970s, I predicted that the moose would find their own way into the Adirondacks; it looks like now it is the time to predict that they will find their own way out.
Following the animal theme, I searched for animal-related gifts. Fortunately, I found a set of dishes that met the need. The set included four plates with a moose on each, four salad plates, four mugs, and four deep bowls, each with a moose painted on. With five children and 11 grandchildren, I purchased 17 sets, one for each and one for myself. And they were dishwasher and microwave safe. Possibly they will remain in our families for many years as memories of the Adirondack moose that once found our woods to their liking.
We had both tame and wild animals as part of our holidays. Our token tame animal for our theme came with our daughter's family; they have a family dog. He has become a part of the family, as dogs do, and entertained all who attended. Pets provided humankind with a welcomed year-round animal theme and we now have a veterinarian and veterinarian technician in the family.
We live with the wild animals. The squirrels decided to winter in our attic. (Could that have been part of my animal theme?) I had installed one of those electronic sound devices that keep rodents away from the side of the house where the squirrels usually hole up in the porch roofs for the winter, and it worked. However, it was a bad move; it chased them up to the attic where, somewhere, they chewed their way in. I must find that hole and chase them out or they will stay all winter.
And, although this may have not been enough of an animal-themed holiday, our friendly skunk under the front porch odorized us each night. I do not know why.
DON WILLIAMS was born and raised
in the Adirondacks. He is a retired
Gloversville school principal and magazine author. He lives in Gloversville.