The days grew shorter, the air crisper, the nights longer, and leaves whispering on the roof awakens each Christmas tree bird wrapped snug in their tissue paper in the attic. Something sang to them, 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 slept since last Christmas.
As the year neared its end, 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. How he anticipated the coming holiday season. 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 pinchey clips that clasped them firmly to each tree branch. And though all his friends were lovely, he felt he was the most beautiful Christmas tree bird of all.
He closed his little red eyes and dreamed of Christmas Eve. From the top of the tree, he would look down on the family gathered by the fireplace. Being part of the celebration made him feel truly alive. “I’ve been thinking,” he whispered in a trembling voice. “You are lovely, Gold Bird, but, you know, I’m the most beautiful Christmas bird.”
Gold Bird’s tail feathers quivered. “Really? Blue glass bird was made in Germany with hand-blown glass and a blue feather tail. Antique bird is missing tail feathers, but so fragile, you can see right through him. We are all unique, and as beautiful as you.” His tail feathers shook as he scolded the young bird.
“It’s true,” said the saucy little bird. “But, the tree won’t be complete if I’m not right near the top.”
Gold Bird, being older and wiser, turned his head. “You obviously don’t understand the true meaning of Christmas. It would serve you right if you got left behind this year.”
The Christmas bird trembled. “That couldn’t happen, could it? It’s not that you aren’t handsome, but my tail feathers are fluffier than yours, and…my…paint is─”
“Tut tut. Not…another…word.”
For several days, the little bird lay in his crinkly paper as the thought haunted him. “It would serve you right …” Not to be there on Christmas Eve? He could not bear the thought.
The days grew shorter and a soft sprinkle of snow blanketed the roof. The wind whistled past the attic and the dark days edged toward December. Early one morning, the Christmas birds heard footsteps on the attic steps. They held their breath, as their box was lifted from the shelf and 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. The young bird heard his friends squeal as they were hung on the tree. He heard music and children laughing. He even smelled cookies!
“It’s almost time,” he whispered to Gold Bird. “It’s nearly my turn.”…but Gold Bird’s fluffy tail no longer tickled his nose. The ornament box was tossed into the corner; empty, except for the little Christmas bird. “What happened? I’m still here.” Overlooked, his comfortable bed was now a prison, his beautiful body still swaddled in crinkly tissue paper. He heard muffled Christmas sounds. A tiny plastic tear formed in his little red eye. “I was conceited and proud, and now I’ve been left behind.”
Christmas Day approached and he lay alone in the box. On Christmas Eve, the family gathered to celebrate the birth of Jesus. The Christmas tree bird imagined his friends hanging on the tree branches. “The round ones may not be as beautiful as me,” he lamented,” but they are on the tree, and I’ve been left behind.”
After supper, the family gathered by the Christmas tree. The little girl read from the Bible. “They wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and lay Him in a manger.”
“I’m wrapped in swaddling clothes, like the baby Jesus.” The little bird imagined the tiny baby sung and warm, lying in a manger, warmed by the breath of the surrounding animals. He heard the daddy tell how Jesus came as a tiny baby, and if we loved and trusted Him, He would take us to heaven and we would never be left behind. The Christmas bird sniffed, “I know what it’s like to be left behind. How much worse it would be, to be left behind from Heaven.”
Then, the crinkling tissue paper in his box lifted and he felt the warmth from the fireplace. “Look, Mommy! It’s another Christmas birdie. He has a red tear in his eye. Can we hang him on the Christmas tree?”
Daddy raised her up and she hung the little bird near Gold Bird. The joyous Christmas bird felt the love as the family opened gifts. The spicy aroma of gingerbread drifted 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 bird. Did you learn anything?”
The 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 tail. It’s not about carols or turkey dinner, or even about presents under the tree. The true meaning of Christmas is celebrating the birth of Jesus, God’s gift for us. When we accept His love and believe in Him, we will never be left behind.”