The days grew shorter, the nights longer, and the whisper of leaves on the attic roof awakened each Christmas tree bird wrapped in tissue paper. Something called to them, until they wiggled with joy, crinkling their crepe paper walls. Soon, each Christmas bird ornament would be lifted from his crinkly paper bed where he had slept all year.
The Christmas birds felt a thrill from their springy wire clips and gold porcelain bodies to their bright feather tails. The littlest Christmas bird lay warm and snug beneath Gold Bird. Soon he would be on the Christmas tree with his fragile glass friends and the others…the round ones with bright colored paint. They were not nearly as beautiful as his Christmas bird friends with their springy wires, delicate glass and pinchy clips that clasped them firmly to each branch. All his friends were lovely, but in his heart, he felt he was the most beautiful Christmas tree bird.
He closed his little red eyes and dreamed of Christmas Eve. He would feel truly alive looking down at the family on Christmas Eve. “I’ve been thinking,” he whispered to Gold Bird in a trembling voice. “You are lovely, but you know, I’m the most beautiful one.
Gold Bird’s tail feathers quivered. “Old blue glass bird was hand-blown in Germany and has a Peacock feather tail. Antique bird is missing tail feathers, but you can see right through him. We are all unique and just as beautiful as you.” His tail feathers shook as he scolded the young bird.
“That may be true,” said the saucy little bird. “But, the tree wouldn’t be perfect if I’m not right near the top.”
Older and wiser Gold Bird, turned away. “You’re missing the true meaning of Christmas. It would serve you right to be left behind.”
The Christmas bird trembled. “It’s not that you’re not handsome, but my tail feathers are fluffier, and…my…paint is─”
“Tut tut. Not…another…word.”
Gold Bird’s words haunted him. “It would serve you right …” Not to be on the Christmas tree? He could not bear the thought.
A soft sprinkle of snow blanketed the roof. The wind whistled past the attic. Early one morning, their box was carried down the stairs. “Soon we’ll be on the Christmas tree,” the little Christmas bird whispered to Gold Bird.
One by one, the Christmas birds were lifted from the box. His friends squealed as they were hung on the tree. He heard music and children laughing. He even smelled cookies!
He whispered to Gold Bird. “It must nearly be my turn” … but Gold Bird’s fluffy tail no longer tickled his nose. The box was tossed into the corner. “What happened? I’m still here.” A tiny plastic tear formed in his little red eye. His tissue paper bed was now a prison, his beautiful body swaddled in crinkly paper. He heard muffled Christmas sounds. “I was conceited and proud, and I’ve been left behind.”
On Christmas Eve, the family gathered to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Alone in the box, the Christmas bird imagined his friends high in the tree branches. “The round ones are not as beautiful as me,” he cried,” but they are on the tree, and I’ve been left behind.”
After supper, the family gathered near the Christmas tree. The little girl read from the Bible. “They wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and lay Him in a manger.”
The little bird imagined the tiny baby sung and warm, lying in a manger, warmed by the breath of the animals. “I’m wrapped in swaddling clothes, like baby Jesus.” Daddy told how Jesus came as a tiny baby, and if we loved and trusted Him, we would never be left behind. The Christmas bird thought, “I was left behind. How much worse, to be left behind from Heaven.”
Suddenly, the crinkling tissue paper in his box lifted and the warmth from the fireplace warmed his delicate glass body.
“Look, Mommy! It’s another Christmas birdie. He has a red tear in his eye. Can we hang him on the Christmas tree?”
Daddy lifted her up to hang the little bird near Gold Bird. The joyous Christmas bird watched the family open gifts. The spicy aroma of gingerbread was in the air. Christmas bird wiggled with joy as the family sang carols. At last, he was exactly where he wanted to be. Gold Bird swung around from a nearby branch. “Welcome to Christmas, little one. Did you learn anything?”
The red tear in his eye shimmered in the light from the fireplace. “I understand,” he whispered. “Christmas is not about who is most beautiful, who has the brightest springy clip or feather tail. It’s not even about carols or turkey dinner, or who gives the most expensive gifts. The true meaning of Christmas is the greatest gift of all, God’s gift to us, the birth of Jesus. When we accept His love and sacrifice, and believe in Him, we will never be left behind.”
And with the lesson learned, for years, the brightly colored Christmas bird with his springy clip and feather tail was never left behind again.