In the movie Christmas Vacation, a Christmas tree is brought into the house hiding an unwelcome guest. Its appearance, moments later, is heralded by a fear-filled, deafening scream of “SQUIRRRRRRRRRRRRREL!!” The resulting chaos included a panicky stampede away from the little creature, followed by an amusing attempt to catch it and get it out of the house.

Great scene. Great movie.

First thing this morning, I ventured into the garage to grab a couple of recycling bins. I had taken a single step over the threshold when I heard a sound. Assuming it to be something and nothing I kept going. Well, you can guess what happened next. “SQUIRRRRRRRRRRRREL!!”. A black squirrel, somewhere between the size of a large boot and small bear, leapt of the shelf and headed for freedom, with me in the way. The next few seconds were a blur, but I think I threw the bin in the direction of the squirrel, and ran. I’m not sure exactly what came out of my mouth, but it was high-pitched and would have terrified any small children in the area.

Here’s the funny thing, if a squirrel was that close to me in the yard, I wouldn’t have paid it any more attention than a leaf blowing in the breeze, but to be that close to it in a confined space, where it was not supposed to be, was enough to turn me into a shivering, fleeing mass of goo.

We’re kind of peculiar, aren’t we? We readily let dogs, cats, guinea pigs, rabbits, hamsters, and budgies share our domestic spaces, but spot a spider on the wall, a millipede creeping out of our drain, or a squirrel in our garage, and we lose it. We seem to very picky about what side of our walls certain animals should be.

I also looked up what it means if you see a squirrel. Squirrels represent “practicality.” The fact they store their food, is a sign that you should take stock of your own provisions. It’s also a sign that I still haven’t cleaned out my garage.