While Rudolph guides the sleigh and Santa slides down the chimney in other households, an unusual visitor makes mischief at the Finks’ house.
But that wasn’t always so.
In the past, Marian and her wife, Shane, along with their daughter, Asa, traveled to the East Coast to celebrate Christmas with extended family. Because of work obligations, they were flying into New Jersey on Christmas Eve just in time for a seven-course dinner.
“It’s a massive feast that goes on till midnight,” says Marian. “The menu changes, but there’s always lobster, clams, shrimp and lasagna.”
Two years ago, the couple had a second daughter, Maeve. Shortly after, they decided to opt out of the hectic holiday travel that year and celebrate at home in Seattle’s South Park neighborhood. Without all the magic and hullabaloo of the caravan back East, the Finks wanted to create a special tradition just for their family of four to share at home.
Shane had an idea. Growing up, she’d always had a special relationship with stuffed animals and — for better or worse — continued to amass a substantial collection of them into adulthood.
“One day she came across a stuffed otter,” says Marian. Because they had so many “dusty fur beasts” stored in bins and hampers around the house already, she was hesitant to add another to the collection. “But Shane said, ‘No, no, this is the Christmas Otter,’” says Marian. And a Christmas tradition was born.
Now each year, the Christmas Otter and his stuffed-animal accomplice (last year it was a Christmas pig) pull silly pranks around the house. Asa, 5½, might find food from the pantry where her socks should be, or bedroom furniture rearranged. Clothes might disappear and be discovered in the freezer.
The Christmas Otter’s mischief knows no bounds.
Marian hopes that the tradition evolves as her daughters grow older, and that they remember it fondly. “They’ll always have this kooky, funny memory,” she says. “Hopefully it’s something they’ll just remember as a sweet, weird thing that their sweet, weird moms did for them.”