My 10-year-old had it in her head and would not give it up.
“Mom, I want a hamster for Christmas.”
I really wouldn’t have minded too much getting her a hamster for Christmas, beady eyes and all. Problem was, I had priced out the whole thing and it was a pretty hefty price tag when you consider the animal itself, the cage with habitrail, water bottle, food dish, hamster toys and hamster ball. I didn’t have a ton of money to work with and this wish seemed well out of reach. I tried to prepare her for what I thought was the inevitable.
“Honey, I really don’t think getting a hamster is going to be doable for me. I will try, but don’t expect one under the tree.”
Her face dropped a bit. “I know mom.” There was a pause for a few seconds, then her face lit back up. “But, it still MIGHT!” Big grin.
*sigh* The unquenchable optimism of youth. My gut quietly ached with the thought of being the delivery agent of disappointment (yet again) so I smiled and put on my happy face and said “Yes, it might.” But inside, I felt like jello. I knew there was no way apart from some supernatural intervention that a hamster would be under that tree.
Only a few weeks before Christmas, I was discussing with a friend my impossible hamster-for-Christmas situation. She looked at me with a funny smile and said “Renee doesn’t have a hamster anymore and all of the hamster stuff is sitting in a box ready to leave my house. I have a cage with tubes, a nesting box, water bottle, food dish, and some wood shavings. We even have a hamster ball. If you want it, it’s all yours!”
I got that deer-in-the-headlights look and for a few brief seconds was quiet . Imagine silence except for the chirping of crickets. Chirp. Chirp. Chirp. Time was momentarily suspended while my brain caught up with reality.
“Uh. Umm. Hmmmm. Really? Wait….. Yeah, of COURSE I’ll take it!”
Not long after this day, I was checking out the posts of offers on Freecycle as I had habitually been doing for at least a year now. I’d love to say that I started scoping Freecycle out of my noble commitment to save the earth and keep our landfills free of unnecessary stuff. Queen Robin rescues yet another perfectly usable and wholly adequate object from offensive landfill space-taking! Score one for the earth! But really, the truth is I’m a sucker for just about anything with a price tag of “free”. If it says “free”, I instantly want it, whatever it is, sight unseen. I had learned to view Freecycle as an awesome way to scoop up some mighty nice stuff for nothing. (And, on occasion, to get stuck with other people’s useless landfill-worthy junk. But I digress.)
I had only seen hamsters offered once or twice before on Freecycle so I was not expecting to find one offered now, especially so close to Christmas, but I was hopeful. I was pleasantly surprised that day to see that someone in the next town over from me was giving away a hamster. Her 5-year-old had lost interest in it quickly and she was tired of caring for it. The hamster was only 6 months old and came with a small cage and a few toys. I was a bundle of nervous energy. Freecycle typically operates on a first come, first served basis so if you’re interested in something, you need to act fast. I sincerely believe that there are people who sit at their computers all day long just watching the postings and swooping in within seconds to stake their claims.
In other words, I didn’t think I had a snowball’s chance of getting this hamster.
I was delightedly surprised to discover only a little bit later that day that I indeed was first on the list. I won! I won! The woman graciously held onto the hamster until Christmas Eve, when I drove over to pick him up.
The following morning, it was wonderful to watch Kayla open up her presents. When she opened up the hamster cage with all the fixings, she thought it was for the stuffed hamster we had purposely placed in her stocking as a red herring. It was so hard not to spill the beans right then and there! At the end of the unwrapping, we pulled the real hamster out of the closet to much ooohing and ahhhing. He really was a cute little thing with his pure white fur.
“I’ll name him Snowball!” Kayla said triumphantly!
I snickered quietly to myself at the appropriateness of the name. We went from a snowball’s chance to Snowball in just a few short weeks. I just love God’s sense of humor!