The wind was howling as I was awakened by the shutter at the window slapping the side of the house. A single eye peeked open and I looked around a still darkened room. The chill in the air reminded me of the weatherman’s prediction of “snow by morning.” My feet were cold so I twisted them into the nap of the covers at my feet. It was the very darkest part of the night. The part of the night that makes one shiver when awakened even in the warmth of summer. I had heard all the stories the night before as I sat with the rest of the family at the table. I heard how this jolly old elf named Santa was going to come sliding down the chimney and bring toys. Ha! I thought as I reasoned the very idea of a great big fat guy slithering down our chimney plopping right into our living room. The picture my mind painted caused me to laugh out loud and yet I caught myself almost believing it could happen.
A moment of silence was heard as nature caught its breath to puff an even more furious and cold breath over our little house in a small farm town in Wisconsin. That last wind dislodged a limb from a nearby tree sending it into the window next to me with a loud whack. I jumped with a start and by this time both eyes were open and were gazing on the eerie shadows made by all the Christmas lights in the street. I peeked through a crack in the blinds and saw a blanket of white snow spread over everything below. The Christmas lights on the house next door were blinking a steady on and off and the plastic snowman across the street at my friend Kiwi’s house was turning side to side and waving just like it had done for the past two weeks after his pop had placed it ever so gently on the lawn. There was such a bright reflection of lights from off the show. I noticed that the moon overhead was full and the face in it looked cold and tired too. The wind settled down. The calm took back over and sleep started creeping up my legs into my head and eyes.
About the time both eyes were closed again and sleep was just moments away there was a thump on the roof. My skin crawled and the feathers around my neck stood straight up. This was a new and unnatural sound. There were several more thumps just seconds behind and overhead I heard the jingling of bells. Needless to say both eyes were awake again only this time I became aware that I was not alone. I flew to the window and carefully pushed the curtains aside just enough to peek outside. What I saw I couldn’t quite explain and it frightened me and made me shiver. I could feel my eyes growing larger and larger as I stood there gazing out the window. Because of a bright full moon I could see the shadows on the new fallen snow of something, no someone, on the roof. I could not believe my eyes but I now tell you the story.
From the rooftop I saw the shadow of a big guy with a big bag flung on his back. He had eight, four-legged horned creatures attached to a seat like device with runners. It looked like the decorations on the new green tree downstairs. He stepped out of the device and took a few short steps, then disappeared down the chimney on our roof. I was quite curious, so I pulled myself together and flew to the banister outside the bedroom door where I perched, waiting for his mysterious entrance. I was nervous about this whole thing, I wanted to call “Mama” and wake her up but decided to investigate more closely before alarming the household. It took but a moment for gravity to act and I saw the grand entrance of this red clad intruder into the room below just next to the Christmas tree. He came down with a plop and soot from the chimney puffed out into the room. “Mama’s gonna be mad”, I thought to myself. Once at the bottom of the chimney the lights from inside the living room and from the Christmas tree found their way to his face and I saw a big man with a gentle face and a big smile and he was dressed all in warm red fur, from his head to his foot. He had white on his face and head and a twinkle in his eye. He brushed himself off and opened his bag and quickly went to work.
He put his head way down inside that bag so far that I thought he was going to fall inside. He pulled out a bright red box with pretty strings and a bow on top and laid it way up under the green tree with the blinking lights. He went back to the bag many times and brought out many pretty boxes with strings and bows all over them. He didn’t make much noise except for grunting when he bent over into the bag, I think his pants were too tight. I stood quietly, watching, waiting to see just what this was all about. I was almost mesmerized at all the pretty things that he was pulling from his bright red bag. The reflections of the Christmas lights made them so pretty then suddenly it was over. He took one last look into the bag and closed it tightly and started back toward the chimney, then it happened. I guess I must have been excited because this noise came from me. It was a loud GRRRR or something like that, anyway he stopped dead still and slowly turned in my direction. I froze. I didn’t know what to do. I just stood there watching. In slow motion he turned to look right at me.
Stanley, is that you”, came a soft deep voice. “Hello” I squawked back before I thought, how did he know my name? I was too frightened to talk any more and I froze solid in my tracks. “Stanley, Come here,” he beckoned to me as I quaked with freight. I felt enough strength now to make my way to him. I was frightened but somehow I knew he was good and things were going to work out. “Stanley, you have been such a good Quaker bird this year. I know your family loves you so much and that you love them too. I have a very special present for you. You will find it in the morning on the tree. Don’t be afraid. Don’t make a sound Now, go back upstairs and go to sleep.” He scratched me on the head for a few minutes, I preened his white face feathers for a moment and he released me to fly back to my room. As I topped the stairs I looked over my left-wing and noticed him disappearing up the chimney. Then I heard another thump on the roof.
Even though the room was chilly I landed on my cage with a warm feeling in my heart. I had actually seen that “Santa” fellow my family spoke of the night before. I couldn’t believe it, it was really him, and he put all those pretty boxes with string and bows under the blinking tree. As I thought on these wonderful things I heard what sounded like bells and running feet on the roof. There was a big swish then the sound of someone laughing and yelling commands. “He he he he”, no, more like “Ho ho ho ho, Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night,” I heard as I caught another glimpse of his shadow through the window as they all flew from the roof of the house. The wind let out another cold breath and twigs and snow swirled outside the window, almost like a tornado. Then, once again, silence filled the room. It seeped in like the milk in a rag after I have an “accident” at the breakfast table. Mama tells me I have a lot of accidents.
I perched there for a few minutes reflecting on happenings of the most recent past. The memories fresh in my mind gave me such a warm feeling. “Who was this jolly old elf,” I asked myself, as I pondered. “Why had he visited this house and departed after leaving all those pretty boxes with strings and bows?” Most of all I wondered just how a person as plump as he could have possible have made it through that chimney. I tried to fly through it once and found escape impossible. As those thoughts swirled through my head like the outside wind circling the yard I felt a great weight on my eyelids and succumbed once again to sleep. I knew I had nothing to fear this night.
Hours passed before the fog cleared from my head, I know because I had the uncontrollable urge to stretch my legs, they felt like lead. My knees were sore and my toes stiff. I felt like I slept standing up, Grr! I guess I did sleep standing up. I yawned then caught the scent of something quite nice in the air. It was sweet yet light. It filled the air and was pleasant and nice, unlike that coffee stuff Mama and Papa have every morning, ack! I took one last stretch and flew to the bedroom door.
Two year old Joseph was awake and peering through the bars overlooking the living room. Older sister Sarah was already downstairs. She was snuggled on the couch all curled up holding “Teddy” her soft white Polar Bear buddy she got last summer for her birthday from Aunt Margaret. Sarah’s eyes were so big I could see the reflection of the warm fire that was now crackling and burning so brightly in the fireplace. “Mama must be in the kitchen cooking up something good”, I thought to myself as I glided past Sarah toward the kitchen. Somewhere down the hall I heard a big growl and recognized it was Papa getting out of bed. Papa is such a grouch in the morning until he gets his coffee. I soared past Sarah and Chester the old alley cat who now lives in the house because he’s to old to be out in the cold, and I flew right past the pretty green tree with strings and twinkle lights and into the kitchen then landed on Mama’s shoulder. “Good morning Stanley” she said, buttering a hot apple muffin”, “oh that’s the sweet smell”, I thought.”How are you this fine Christmas morning? You’re my sweet little Quaker bird”, she completed. I lowered my head for the regular morning scratch. “It’s going to be short morning today my little friend. It’s about time to open Christmas presents.” I cocked my head and looked puzzled for a moment, then cuddled into Mama’s neck and started to purr like I heard Chester do so many times when he got a good scratchin’.
It wasn’t long before Mama buttered the last apple muffin and stopped scratching. She reached over and gave me a little nuzzle with her nose and a little kiss on the beak, I like those kisses. “Kissies, kissies, smooch, smooch”, I said. Mama picked up a handful of plates and started for the table so fast that I had to flap my wings to stay on her shoulder. “Breakfast”, she called out. I could hear the rhythm of Joshua’s little feet pattering down the stairs. Sarah, still mesmerized by the fire, didn’t want to get cold so she blinked once and cuddled even tighter with “Teddy”. Chester, who is always hungry, stopped playing with the strings on the tree and wandered into the kitchen ready to beg for any sweet morsel of food that would be dropped by the flock. I floated to my perch on the table and began crunching on one of the fine Christmas nuts that Mama had put in my bowl. Papa was now strolling into the kitchen, one eye open and his hair looked like Mama had scratched it for hours, it was sticking out in all directions. “Ack!”, I squawked. He looked so funny. Mama kept making trips to the counter bringing goodies to the table. By this time Joshua was up in his chair with the special table for me to sit on and Chester was rolled up in his favorite spot on the rug between Mama and the counter. “Sweetie, come to breakfast”, Mama called out to Sarah. “Bring Teddy. It’s ok today. It’s Christmas”. Sarah began stirring.
Breakfast was wonderful. I ate a little of Mama’s apple muffin then a piece of Sara’s orange. Papa always gave me a bite of his cereal and a drink of his milk. Joshua’s special table, and the fact that he is always messier than me, provides the most wonderful place to sit and eat. Even though there is always a pile of cereal on the table I love to eat off of his spoon and make him giggle. Chester faithfully sits below and ever so often I drop him treats. Breakfast with the flock is a wonderful time.
With breakfast over Mama said, “Time to open presents.” Sarah jumped down from the table so fast that she almost forgot Teddy. Papa wondered over and poured some more hot stuff in his cup with the picture of a red parrot on the side and Mama picked Joshua up out of the chair and wiped the extra cereal off so Chester could munch a few more morsels. I decided it was time for a little head scratchin’ and flew over to Papa’s shoulder. “Hello Stanley”, he said in his big deep voice as he took a sip of hot stuff. “Need some scratchin’? You’re such a sweet little green bird,” he added, and off to the living room he walked with his little buddy on his shoulder.
The presents were neatly and lovingly spread under the tree. Each one was wrapped with colorful paper and tied with red, green or gold string, and a big bow was stuck on the top in just the right place. Mama and Sarah and Teddy were curled up on the couch. Joshua sat on the floor in front of the tree while Papa and I stood next to the tall green tree. Papa always laughed when he tried to put me on the tree. I didn’t like that sticky green stuff on the tree. It tickled my feet and I would always squawk and flap until I got back over to Papa’s shoulder. “Birds are supposed to like trees,” he always told me, but I don’t particularly like them myself.
One by one, in quite a flurry, Papa brought all the boxes from under the tree and the bows were peeled off and all the pretty string was untied and the paper was torn from them revealing marvelous things. Joshua sat playing with his new cars and an airplane. I went down and grabbed the bright blue one and took it to the couch to chew on. Teddy got a new playmate, Sarah called him Gramps, everyone thought he looked like Mama’s Papa. Gramps was a brown fluffy dog with a big black nose and real fluffy ears. I flew over to chew on his ear, tasted pretty good. Papa opened a package that held a long black box with soft chewy buttons, he said that he could now watch the football games better. I can’t wait until I can taste those buttons. Mama opened a little box and pulled shiny dangly things from it. She held them up to her ears. I think she liked them because her eyes sparkled as much as they did. I flew over to Mama’s shoulder and started to taste the bright dangly things. “No Stanley”! She hollered. I knew what that meant. Chester even got a few new things, new cat food and a flee collar. I didn’t like to taste his stuff because it’s yucky. I even got a red and green package with strings and a bow. I pulled the string and found a new bag of “cheetos” and a new ceramic water dish for the kitchen. I pulled a bright yellow cheeto from the bag and offered it to Mama. She must have like them a lot because she made a funny face when she bit it.
In a while the noise and bustle was over and everyone was excited and tired. I perched on top of Papa’s shoulder and looked out over the living room. There were stacks of pretty colored paper and strings everywhere. Mama was stuffing the bows in a plastic bag next to her chair. Joshua was still playing with his new cars even though he had a bright new bicycle standing close by. Sarah, Teddy and Gramps were playing dress-up with all her new clothes. Chester had long ago ventured back into the kitchen to eat. As I sat there I wondering if this was all there is to Christmas?
Right then I looked up at the angel sitting on top of the tree. I saw a small light beaming from her face leading straight to the nativity scene on the table in the corner. It highlighted the face of the infant in the manger. I laughed a little because I remember Papa telling the Christmas story to Sarah, Joshua, Teddy, Chester and me just the night before. He made funny sounds like sheep and cows as he told the story of Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus and of God coming to earth as a man to die for our sins. He told me that Jesus even loves birds, well Papa said good birds. It was a wonderful story about love and flying angels and wise men bringing presents to baby Jesus. Right then I got so excited that I jumped onto the coffee table and squawked “Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas”! I finally saw the present that Santa had left me on the tree, it was the angel. Papa extended his finger I flew over and I found my way to his shoulder and looked out over all that I love so much. Papa said “Good bird, Stanley you’re such a sweet little buddy”. He petted me as I stuck my head under his warm chin.
I felt warm sleep creeping up my legs as Papa scratched my head, and as I stood there purring, like Chester does, but just before the sleep reached my head I thought, “I sure hope they get this place cleaned up before Grandma and Gramps get here for Christmas dinner.”
Copyright Jon-Mark Davey 1996-2016
Please this story with as many friends and relatives as you can.
Merry Christmas from Stanley, Scooter, Skippy, Tash, Miracle, Max, Sarah, Grace, Popcorn, Squirt, Sweet Cheeks, Bugsy, Rocky, and all the friends of QuakerVille and Davey Digital.
In loving memory of all my sweet Quaker Parrots who are still alive in our hearts.