Everyone who lived alone had gone the night before, after the party, to the homes of relatives or friends.
But Old Possum had stayed at home, and Mouse and his entire family had spent the night, with all the children camping — slumber-party-style — on the floor of the living room, in front of the fire, where they had fallen asleep to the sight of firelight winking on glass ornaments.
In snug houses, nests, and burrows throughout the garden, Old Christmas morning was a time to sleep in and then enjoy a leisurely breakfast of strong tea with cream, and hot toast slathered with butter (Raccoon had given each household a fresh loaf of sourdough bread for Christmas).
And it was also, of course, a time to open presents: socks and new pens and pretty notebooks, oranges and boxes of sweets and knitted hats, tiny polished rocks and buttons and teacups.
After lunch, Crow and several others arrived at Possum’s house to help disassemble the tree.
The small birds plucked ornaments from the branches and handed them, one by one, to the mice, who wrapped them carefully in tissue paper. Crow fetched the wooden star from the top of the tree and placed it in its box.
And after the birds had unwound the garland, setting it in a pile on the floor, the mice and birds and Possum all gathered ’round to tell stories and snack on the remaining popcorn and berries.
(Early January 2024)