I am not a big fan of hanging outdoor Christmas decorations, though I do enjoy the results of other husbands who were not successful in avoiding the activity. Our decorations go up the weekend after Thanksgiving when the temperature hovers around t-shirt range, and they come down between Christmas and New Year’s Day. All those tiny twisted tie wires can be monsters when coated with sleet or ice or when the temperature has dropped into the “it’s winter better hibernate” range.
Shawn loves her decorations, so I attempt to participate with a semi-happy attitude. Most of the time, anyway.
I’ve negotiated down to a reasonable amount of outdoor installation labor. We have beautiful fake pine, silver/blue balls, and red/white LED lights around the front door, under the protection of the front porch. We have a fiber optic angel that illuminates the house with her cheerful color display. And in a past electrical upgrade I included an outlet beside the front door. The icing on the cake comes from two wreaths on the banister which we hang from three inch screws installed in the same holes year after year.
All was well until a new challenge arrived this season. We have a crazy bird, a house finch, roosting above the door in the fake pine and dropping bird opinions down the glass of the storm door and onto the porch. One afternoon he attempted a home invasion, but I quickly shut him out and scared him away.
I thought the battle was over and the war was counted as a win in my John versus nature tally.
Last week the overworked mailman arrived well after dark, and I exited to walk to the box only to have that miserable bird drop behind me and sail into the living room. I could only watch as he fluttered around the lamps and landed briefly among the dried hydrangea blooms Shawn harvested from Mom’s garden years ago. Any time I moved closer the bird flew taunting me from his superior one step ahead position. He tried most of the good perching sites while I ran in circles.
I stationed Shawn at the stairway to prevent his escape to the upstairs and opened the storm door to enable the bird’s egress. When I turned Shawn had abandoned her post, and my last view of Flutter was his little tail disappearing up the stairs.
Shawn is real smart. She had shut all the upstairs doors which restricted his flight pattern to the narrow hallway. That significant innovation might boost the likelihood of a capture. I wore myself out chasing that bird. Shawn nixed my idea of using buckshot to bring certain and swift resolution. I guess neither of us wanted to repair sheetrock and paint this close to Christmas.
At that moment the beeper in the kitchen exploded with its melodious chorus announcing the end of the cooking phase for dinner and the beginning of the eating phase. As a hungry homeowner I decided that this game of cat and mouse (or was it bird in John’s house?) had to end.
I carried a rolled up garden magazine and a bucket. The bird zigged. He zagged. He made a crucial error and dropped into my arm range. I led him on his short dart and pop! I slapped that bandit out of the air. Feathers drifted around me as I scooped his quivering body into the bucket and dashed to the door for his certain and swift ejection.
Now he’s back.
I gave up and posted a warning sign to remind me to wiggle the storm door and make noise before I step onto the porch.
I will be removing the Christmas decorations at sunup on December 26th.
I’ve thought about that bird and how the decorations attracted him to an ideal perch. In this season we can be swept away with the twinkling lights and familiar tunes. We can wallow in the shopping and the sales and the overheated credit cards. We can bake and clean and cook and prepare for those special family moments, and we can miss the meaning of Christmas altogether.
In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” Luke 2:8-14 NASB
Merry Christmas from John and Shawn (the gardeners at Paths of Hope)