The Christmas Ham, Penny Lane

I wanted a girl hamster. My local stores only carried males. I only had males. And my only two children are males. I only have one female pet, my elderly dog Chloe. I wanted to tip the scales in this home! When I was visiting my parents for the holidays I knew I would be heading to their Petsmart before we left to return to Maryland. I knew I’d bring with us a girl Syrian hamster.

So, on Christmas Day, it rained. It was absolutely dreary. Later in the evening there would be a gale. My husband and myself took the kids and we headed to Petsmart before the storm and because we knew it was open and we planned to leave early the very next day to return home. This was my Christmas gift to myself. I was SO excited I could hardly contain myself.

We arrived and the sale in the store had wiped the place out. It was unexpectedly busy. I made a straight line to the back where the hamsters were housed. I peered in an igloo for the Syrian hamster cage and I saw a lot of white. I was excited! I hadn’t gone in there with any colors in mind. Only that since I had a long hair I’d like to have a short hair. The container stated it was Short hair (But they were certainly incorrect! She was long haired!). An employee was right there and asked if I wanted to see them. I felt my voice catch!

He lifted the igloo and I saw 3 hamsters. ALL that was left for Syrians. They were all sleeping in a huddle on their backs. That was why I saw all white. When they stirred to life Penny was the first I saw. She was alert and ready to go. She was gorgeous – a sable banded, eye rings and all. She was the most vibrant and vivacious of them all. I didn’t hesitate. I don’t even think I noticed the other two sadly as that sounds. “That one,” I said.

As soon as she was in her temporary travel bin at my parents home she was full of life. A wheel of her OWN! (I had brought a spare wheel with us on the trip down as I had planned for her). And she backed right into her sand box and wee wee’d like she had been litter trained all her life. She was active and rambunctious and just so easy to fall in love with.

I never thought of hamsters as intelligent but she was. She was incredibly bright. It’s difficult to explain how I know this. But I did. Intelligence shined in her eyes.

And feline-like she would prance about and rubbed against things and us. I’m starting to lose steam here as I just get emotionally exhausted.

The most touching aspect of this ham’s spirit was the maternal spirit. Immediately she was drawn to and trusting of and affection to my children. She did not shy away from curious hands. Even my infant. She claimed them as her own. She crawled on them and rubbed against them and gave them kisses. She wiggled when I held her but she was still and patient when my 3-year-old at the time – would hold her.

She chirped happily to greet me. She was very vocal though until the end I never heard vocal for negatives. Until the very end she didn’t want to be touched and screeched quite a bit when I touched her. So, I gave her my gentle voice instead and touched her much less.

She was the bravest hamster I’ve ever had so far. The most spirited. The most rambunctious and outgoing. She was an acrobat and gymnast. She was robust and intelligent and a big eater. She could be destructive but never in any way that was unsafe or a real issue or that ever made me cross. And it wasn’t always. But she had the ability. Her strength and stamina could be revered.

As I am not sure how old hamsters are when they are for sell at Petsmart I could only guess. I guessed at the higher end and surmised she would have turned about a year old around now. That she would have been born sometime in November to be able to be sold by Christmas.

Of all the hamsters I looked most forward to decorating her cage for Christmas as she was my true Christmas ham. All the festive bedding I recently purchased was with her mostly in mind. She was the hamster I bought the cardboard climber Christmas tree for.

I just buried her in the flower bed right outside my  kitchen window. I can think of her every time I set my coffee pot. Or wash my dishes. It was a sunny spot so warm in the cold 20 degree weather we are having today. I placed her inside her magenta floral patterned tissue box. I placed lovely shimmering stones on top of her grave. It was a solitary gesture. I could have made this a life lesson for my now 4-year-old. But instead I decided to just have that moment for me and her.

You broke the mold Penny Lane. There will never be a hamster exactly like you. I never felt like you were MY hamster but instead that WE were YOUR people. Thank you for having us darling.

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9 thoughts on “The Christmas Ham, Penny Lane

  1. I can’t even believe this has happened. I am so very sorry for your loss but I hope you can take some comfort in knowing you gave Penny an amazing life. I was always so jealous of your setups and Penny was living in a hamster utopia. She was an amazing little lady and I am happy to have indirectly known her.

    I wish I had been able to offer more advice when she became sick but I’m not experienced with ear infections or anything similar. In the grand scheme, I’m relatively new to hamsters myself. I am so sorry I never even saw your post on, I guess, SHUK asking for help. I don’t check it every day. But I know I wouldn’t have been of much help anyway. Ugh… Sorry, I’m babbling. I just can’t believe it.

    Run free, play well, sleep tight Beautiful Penny. I hope you enjoy that big wheel in the sky until you meet your mummy again.

    You have a Christmas star shining bright just for you, Julia. ❤

    • That is such a lovely thought. A little star. It makes me think – I need to create an ornament for my tree for her. Every time one of my beloved pets pass I should create an ornament and hang it on the tree.
      I can at least feel like I did give her the best I had and could. Heck, I ran quite a damn hole in our budget over my devotion to spoiling the pets. Like ridiculous. And yet I can reign it in NOW. I have plenty of stuff for them now but yet I do not feel regret either. I mean spoiling and cuddling these creatures brings me a great joy. A special joy. They get me through so many forms of my depression and “states”. I have kept a much more even keel than I have without medication than i could have expected and I think it’s the act of caring for these hamsters and gerbils that has done it.

      I could still benefit from medication. But the fact I went this long without absolutely not functioning without it is telling that Penny and the rest have a powerful, positive effect on my life. And I will not forget her for that.

  2. I had to go get my Philip, so I’m sitting here scritching Philip as I read and now, as I type.

    I can’t even write blog posts when one of my rats die. They just “disappear”. That doesn’t mean that my heart doesn’t break. I just can’t pull together words to express my loss. It is an honor to read about Penny’s life and final hours.

    • My reaction is really weird. I feel like this need to distract myself. I’m doing things as usual online and also I did some edits to some of my pages on this blog. Add and subtracted some information to update. ETC. I feel like making a new header for my blog. Completely redesigning. And yet don’t want to. What compels my mood right now is really weird.

      I find writing about her soothing and doing her picture banners and yet at the same time it’s making me feel like I’m avoiding other big feelings and questions.

      It’s so horrible losing pets. People too of course but so much focus is placed on people understandably. But losing anything you love is so hard. Losing one person and then losing another person evokes different degrees of emotion and pain. Just like losing pets evokes different degrees and types of pain. It’s how we loved and how much we loved and what they or it meant to us. And it feels like loving and losing a pet isn’t as talked about as it should be.

      When people in my life have died I reacted the same. I kind of closed off my big emotions and wrote intellectual pieces about them on other blogs I had. Pretty much as soon as they passed almost. I wrote about my dad the day he died. But when I read it – I wrote my feelings so true. Almost perfect. But I didn’t FEEL much of them or wasn’t letting myself feel. I didn’t cry for over half a year after he died. I even acted kind of like normal.

      Like a weird disconnect. And yet I WAS feeling but it was so deep inside.

      Writing this I wasn’t crying. But I felt tired at some points like my heart was hurting. And then I’d write on and feel energized somehow. Pretty much I’m wandering about feeling haunted. Like a looming darkness is on my shoulder. I cannot stand it.

      A strong, vital energy force powering the house just estinguished …I guess it’s normal to feel a loss of that positive energy of another living being. 😦

      I hope this all made some sort of sense.

      • These layout came up when I was searching for a new one for a little therapeutic change and it was so festive and cheerful I just had to have it even if it’s really early.
        Bob is a little less active but it might be my imagination. I also think he suddenly doesn’t smell a female around! But overall the others are doing well. Strawberry in fact is incredibly active these days. He seems to be so comfortable in his new cage – he loves climbing all over the place.

  3. I know words don’t mean much when one is hurting, but I’m so very sorry for your loss. It really hit me in the stomach when I read that Penny Lane had crossed over to the Bridge, she (and Bob too) had always been one of my favorites and I really loved reading about her larger-than-life personality. 😥 I’m not very good at this, but I just want you to know that I share your love for Penny and the sadness in loosing her. It’s a wonder how a little creature can make such an impact on our lives.

    Play well at the bridge Penny Lane, I hope my Tippy can find you there.

    • This meant so much to me. Thank you so much for all that you shared. It warms my heart Penny was cared about and adored by many. It helps as I felt so saddened by the lack of concern elsewhere. She was such a special little life. She is so missed. ❤

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