The year the rat ate Christmas.

While I was growing up, my grandparents lived on a farm in Middle-of-Nowhere, South Carolina. A few days before Christmas one year, there was an outbreak of large rats, who entered the house through some vents and happily scurried around through the walls. (I should note that this was not common; there were always a lot of “creatures” around, but never, ever rats.) My uncle sealed up the entry holes and put out some poison pellets, so by the time my mom and I arrived for Christmas, the whole ordeal was winding down. Or so we thought.

On Christmas Eve, we added our gifts under the tree. I had found some sugar-free Werther’s candies for Mom; she had bought and wrapped up a silver charm bracelet for me.

Come Christmas morning, after the explosion of wrapping paper and ribbons settled, I noticed that the Werther’s bag was missing. Mom also looked perplexed, since she knew I hadn’t yet opened one important gift. That box didn’t seem to be under the tree either. Keep reading »