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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Choose Me Another Holiday Story by Susie Christian

  Another Wonderful Holiday Story by Susie Christian!
 
 
 
 
 
http://www.eclectusville.com/christmas2003.html

The Colors of Christmas By Susie Christian

Christmas is coming soon!
My wonderful friend Susie Christian has stories to tell. I took some time this morning and enjoyed reading them. I feel that I should share these amazing stories.

The Colors of Christmas

By Susie Christian



A Wonderful Christmas Story!

 http://www.eclectusville.com/colors.html   
 

Life had never been easy for little Tony, and this Christmas promised to be not much different. He sat by the cold damp window-pane, impatiently watching and waiting for his mother to come home and t

The Colors of Christmas

By Susie Christian


Life had never been easy for little Tony, and this Christmas promised to be not much different. He sat by the cold damp window-pane, impatiently watching and waiting for his mother to come home and take him to visit Santa Claus. She had promised to take him every day for the last week but couldn't get off work in time. He really hoped she would make it home in time today, because this was Christmas Eve and he wasn't sure if Santa Claus would have enough time to hear his request.
Tony and his mother were just barely making it in every way. Sometimes the bills weren't paid on time and they ate a lot of oatmeal and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to get through the month.
His father had been a wonderfully heroic Marine who went to war and fought in Guadalcanal but didn't return when the war was over. Tony kept an album of photos of his dad, sent home from the war. He was very proud of this handsome, grinning dad he had never met, all decked out in uniform. His dad had thick wavy dark hair, a pencil thin moustache and eyes the color of a foaming, stormy sea he was told by his mother. Tony could also tell this from the black and white photos he studied for hours at a time and he had memorized every feature and line on his dad's face. He so desired to know that father he would never meet. Being a brave Marine was something to be proud of, but the medals the government sent home could never fill the hole in Tony's heart because he didn't have a father. All his school mates had fathers.....
The only job that Tony's mother could find in town was doing waitress work at the Owl Diner. During the war she worked as a drill press operator at the government plant that manufactured airplane parts. After the war, one by one these plants closed and single women found what work they could. She worked many hard hours and made the money stretch the best she could. Christmas season added to her already long hours. Tony hardly saw her at all during this time of year.
Why, it was only yesterday that they went to the Christmas tree lot and found their tree lying in a deserted field. It was one of a few crooked, scraggly looking specimens that hadn't sold and were left for the poor folks to pick up for free. They brought it home and decorated it with popcorn, cranberry and marshmallow garlands. One much-prized, repaired strand of bubbling lights Tony had found in the neighbor's garbage after last Christmas and a bit of leftover, scrunched up tinsel from the previous years completed the embellishments. A faded celluloid angel hovered precariously atop the tree, her cardboard wings dog-eared from many years of being packed away for the other eleven months. But Tony loved his newly transformed tree and focused on the warmth he felt from it. Every time he looked outside all he saw was the bitter cold and the frozen ground that crunched when you stepped on it.
The wonderful glow of the Christmas tree filled his vision and temporarily took his awareness away from the sparse condition of their house. There lay the faded old floral carpet on the hard wood floor with bare paths worn into its surface from foot traffic and half the fringe missing on the edges. The brown velour horse hair sofa was broken down here and there but a most comfortable place to sit and 'wool-gather' magical thoughts just the same. Because it was full of worn spots his mother pinned white crocheted doilies over all the holes. They were forever slipping off and Tony was always very careful to replace them before she came home. The thin tattered curtains that hung over the windows hid the cracking paint on the sills, but did nothing to keep the cold out. It was indeed a very modest house but it was a roof over their heads.
Tony had a bad winter cold that went into his ears the last few days before Christmas vacation and he stayed home from school. He welcomed the opportunity to stay home because school was not the happiest place he could think of to be, anyhow. He was born with a club-foot and needed special corrective shoes made to accommodate his condition. He even wore a brace on his leg part of the time. This was an expense his mother could ill afford but she always saw to it that he was taken care of as his feet and bones grew.
Of course classmates being what they will, saw Tony looked different and he was the brunt of their teasing and jokes. He was a very shy boy anyhow and the ridicule made him withdraw even further. By seven years old he knew he was so different that he didn't even try to fit in anywhere. He was never picked for any team on the playground because he couldn't run and play with boys his age. Heaven forbid at that age he pal around with the girls because then he would be labeled a sissy. Tony was forced to live in his own world inside of himself where it was safe, there was a measure of comfort and no one would make fun of him or hurt his feelings.
His tousled strawberry blonde hair didn't help things either. Darn hair would never lie down and he chose to wear a cap whenever he could so no one would notice his mop of shocking hair and make rude comments. Then too his eyes were still another unusual color.....kind of like the rich amber glow of the single candle that lit the tiny ceramic Nativity scene on the coffee table. The Nativity scene his dad bought for his mother the first Christmas they were together back in 1942. Poor little Tony, he seemed to have none of the outward appearances that would allow him fit in anywhere.
As he sat waiting for his mother he kept thinking what it was he was going to ask Santa Claus for. Since Tony spent so much time sitting by the window looking out, he always noticed the birds outside. They were so happy and free and they all seemed to get along with one another very well. He loved birds. Then too a few months back he saw a Parakeet up close in a cage at Woolworth's five and dime. It was the most beautiful shade of iridescent grass green and it even paid attention when he went up and talked softly to it. This could be a friend that Tony could have that wouldn't judge him or laugh at him. He even heard that Parakeets could be taught to talk. Tony was going to ask Santa to bring him a bird for Christmas!
Finally he saw the beams of headlights swing across the yard and he heard his mother pull into the driveway. Tony rushed to turn off the record player because he was only supposed to be listening to it when his mother was at home. She was afraid he might break one of the old heavy black vinyl discs if he played them by himself. However he couldn't resist sneaking his favorite Bing Crosby song "White Christmas" on the turn table. Plus he loved to open the big ersatz alligator case and study the RCA dog Nipper, whose picture was inside the case, as he listened. He had actually been dressed and ready to go for hours when he met her at the door all bundled up. His mother told him she had checked and that if they hurried, they would just catch Santa at Penney's Department Store before they closed.
Tony rushed through the door of Penney's way ahead of his mother. Something told him they were really late. He knew Santa was located on the mezzanine and Tony raced up the stairs as fast as his clumsy shoe would allow him to travel. Just in the nick of time too, as Santa had gotten up from his huge gold filigree throne-chair and was turning the floodlights out that lit up the word "Toyland".
Santa turned toward Tony and saw his anxious expression, asking him, "What can I do for you young man? What would you like me to bring you for Christmas? Do you have a list for me?"
Tony was in such a hurry the words tumbled out all over one another, "Santa, Santa, would you please, please bring me that beautiful little green Parakeet that I saw at Woolworth's?"
"That's all I want this Christmas. I promise I have been very, very good and if you bring me this little bird then I will have a good friend to talk to. Please Santa?" Tony begged.
Santa peered over his gold-rimmed glasses into Tony's wide, excited amber eyes, seeing beyond those eyes right into Tony's heart. Santa's heart tenderly felt the plea Tony was making to him in his need for a companion that would return his love and friendship, unconditionally.
Santa then said, "We'll see what we can do for you my fine young man."
This statement was accompanied with a promising wink. Santa gently lifted Tony from his lap, handing him a candy cane with a red satin bow and a small red net stocking filled with fruits, nuts and hard candy.
"I'll need to be going now Tony, if I am to find you a bird before morning," Santa told him with a big grin, as he walked down the cardboard-snow covered stairs from his special golden chair. Tony watched as Santa turned to leave, still filled with excitement over getting to tell Santa of his one wish for Christmas.
The words "I BELIEVE in Santa Claus." formed softly on Tony's lips, as his eyes followed the first leg of Santa's departure for the North Pole through the elevator door at Penney's. .
As they trudged down the icy sidewalk toward their old gray '42, four-door Chevy that usually ran, Tony confided in his mother what he asked Santa for. His request caused her to raise her eyebrows a bit but she smiled sweetly and said a silent prayer.
When they returned home, Tony's mom made hot Ovaltine and they toasted marshmallows pierced with forks over the burners on the gas stove. He was very content with the thought that he had at least gotten to see Santa and make his wish.
Tony thought he would never get to sleep that Christmas Eve as he tossed and turned restlessly. Would Santa really bring him a little bird-friend? Finally, he quietly made his way into the living room, dragging a heavy paisley-print goose down comforter in tow. A big black metal flashlight his dad had used in the Marines was tucked in beside him in case Santa needed light to find Tony's house. He would just snuggle up under the quilt and wait for Santa Claus with one eye open.......
Meanwhile, Santa was fit to be tied with Tony's request. It was the very last minute when Santa threw open the door to his work shop, not knowing where he would find the materials to manufacture a bird....of all things!! Santa's mind couldn't erase that expression of anticipation and eagerness that he saw in little Tony's imploring eyes. He knew if he looked, maybe he could find some discarded forms of toys that had broken and been put aside. Maybe he could piece something together that would resemble a bird. Santa began to search the nooks and crannies of his cluttered workshop.
First he found the papier-m?ch? form of a parrot in a storage bin...and here was another about the same size in the bottom of a box. Poor little creature had two toes missing though. Then he looked up on the shelf and he found still another smaller form of a parrot but because it had been crammed and squished into the corner so long it had a permanently pointed head.
Santa thought to himself, "Well I should be able to get one good looking bird out of all this!"
He picked up his paint and brushes, and proceeded to color the birds in. Santa reasoned because it is Christmas I will paint one red and one green then see which one looks the best. He did notice the one with the two toes missing needed to be repaired before he painted it. Quickly he formed two more toes from wire and paper and glued them on the foot of the green bird. They didn't quite fit right, but it was close. The brush in Santa's hand moved swiftly, applying the large areas of color. Why he even got carried away and stroked on a few accent colors here and there, to break up the monotony of just plain red and green. The red bird was perfect in every way and the green one was nearly perfect too if you didn't look closely at the toes.
Santa started to clean his brush and had it half way rinsed when the funny little form on the workbench with the pointed head caught his eye. The red color he used last was diluted by now on his brush and he quickly swirled the brush tip through the white to create a vibrant pink. He decided to apply a coat of that bright odd color to the strange little head and body. Now what have I done he asked himself? It is way too bright and shocking for a bird's coloring. He dipped into the black and then white and blended a coat of gray on the back to tone it down a bit. Now this little bird turned out pretty good too, he thought.
As he waited for their colors to dry, he thought about his next decision. Which bird to take to Tony? Santa sat there looking at his handiwork trying to decide which two he should leave behind at the North Pole. He couldn't make up his mind. He knew Tony needed a good friend so why not take him three faithful feathered friends? So deciding, Santa wiggled his nose, blinked his eyes and worked his special Christmas magic to bring the trio of parrots to life.
The Red Shining One gazed with sweet elegance at Santa from her shelf perch and the Green Glistening One turned his head to the side and thanked Santa for the gift of life. Well, the Soft Pink Fluffy One did a deep bow of gratitude and screeeeched a hearty Christmas cheer. She also hastened to show Santa she could raise and lower her crest at will, so he wouldn't worry her head was permanently ruined and would stay pointed forever.
"What a group!" Santa shouted proudly, thrilled with his last minute creation. All the Elf helpers who had been watching Santa's last minute miracle, cheered in unison for their jolly leader's success.
"Now we must hurry to make our rounds this night or we will disappoint all the boys and girls all over the world," Santa urged the feathered trio.
The three parrots held a group meeting among themselves while Santa and the Elves were loading the sleigh with presents. The birds were so very grateful that Santa rescued them from the dark, dusty forgotten corners of the workshop, painted them such wondrous colors and given them life, they wanted to help him. They had a plan....
Since these parrots were from the Southern Hemisphere and knew the geography of that part of the world so well, they offered to help Santa navigate the sleigh. They could help him make much better time, particularly on his route below the Equator. The feathered trio felt responsible for Santa running so late. If he hadn't taken the time to create them, he would already be at the first child's house in Greenland by now.
The Red Shining One and The Green Glistening One flew out in front of the sleigh and traveled a little above Rudolph, one on each side. From this vantage point they could see forever and tell the reindeer where to stop. Red on the right and Green on the left as is known to be proper in navigation. The Soft Pink Fluffy One decided she would be better off cuddling under Santa's beard, reading the world map and keeping him company during the trip. Besides, she was a tad bit fearful her top knot just might come undone in the wind and her pointed head would return for good.
Santa's flying caravan made its way through the world that Christmas Eve in record time, with the help of the wonderful winged ones navigation skills. They saved Tony's house for their last stop because they wanted to be sure that Santa had their help the whole evening. Besides, with all the expert help, Santa was way ahead of schedule.
They checked for a chimney, but Tony's house had no chimney for Santa to climb down. The parrots were relieved because they worried that their newly painted tail feathers might get singed, or at least full of soot with the traditional method of descent into the room. Santa checked all the windows but they were locked tightly. The Soft Pink Fluffy One came forward to volunteer her services.
"I can chew through that rusty screen and old wood frame of the window in less than five minutes." she squeaked in her piping shrill voice.
She did just that and they were able to spring the lock and climb through the window in a twinkling. They were very very quiet so they wouldn't wake Tony, who was sleeping soundly on the divan. Safely delivered, Santa bid a grateful farewell to his new friends who had helped him so much that night. The three parrots also thanked Santa for giving them the wonderful gift of life for Christmas. Then they all perched on the window-sill and watched as Santa and his sleigh disappeared into the cold winter air.
The birds decided to catch a quick nap before dawn, but the long trip had left them very hungry. They kept half-opening one eye to peer out at all the potential treats hanging on the tree in the middle of the room. It was just too tempting and the Soft Pink Fluffy One couldn't stand it any more. She tippy toed across the room and snagged the string of popcorn. The Red Shining One spied the cranberries and The Green Glistening One was also on his way to fill his empty stomach. He tried to perch in the branches but they were too fragile to hold him and he went ker-bang onto the floor. At the same time The Red Shining One decided to fly away with the end of the cranberry string in her mouth. The air was filled with wing beats, crashes and squawks.
Tony came to with a start and wasn't sure if he was still dreaming. The room was occupied with three giant birds the likes of what Tony had never seen before. Plus they had made a shambles out of the Christmas tree.
He thought to himself, "But I only asked Santa for one little green Parakeet!"
When all the commotion died down and Tony realized that Santa had really fulfilled his wish and then some, he began to talk with the birds. He said, "All of you need names," and proceeded to name The Red Shining One, Ruby, for she was radiant, like the sparkle of a beautifully cut precious gem. The Green Glistening One became Jade, as he was the translucent color of the stunning green stone that comes from far off China. Of course the name was very obvious for The Soft Pink Fluffy One! She would be called little Rosie. She reminded Tony of the delicate pink roses that grew on the bush in the garden that his dad had planted before the war.
As Tony became acquainted with each parrot he noticed some small details peculiar to each one. First of all, Rosie's feathers stood up on top of her head just like Tony's hair would do when he didn't have a cap on to hold his hair down. Her feather color was even strawberry....it almost matched Tony's hair.
He looked into Ruby's eyes and saw they were a deep amber color like the necklace his mom so often wore. Peering into the mirror he realized his own eyes were about that same shade.
But he decided his most favorite bird was Jade, with his bright orange grinning beak. As he held Jade he was shocked to see that the bird had two crooked toes on the same foot as Tony's club-foot. When Tony put him on the floor Jade even walked with a slight limp....the same as Tony! He was amazed as he began to notice all the similarities between himself and these new friends.
He spent several hours getting acquainted and talking to the birds that happy Christmas morning. Tony's mother was so tired from working long hours before Christmas she slept long past her normal time to wake up. When she did come into the living room, eyes still filled with sleep, she asked Tony, "How come the tree is all torn apart?"
The sound of her voice startled Tony and as he turned to look at her he saw her image softly outlined in the doorway against the weak winter light. She had a delicate pink chenille house coat on and her uncombed strawberry blonde hair was a mass of tousled ringlets. But her eyes....they glowed in that clear winter light as beautiful glowing embers burning in new fallen snow! Tony had never seen how he truly resembled his mother in appearance. He suddenly saw how beautiful she really was and it hit him how foolish he had been to think he looked 'funny' to others. He looked very like his mother and could see himself through re-focused eyes.
Tony looked back in the direction of his new feathered friends and excitedly asked his mom what she thought about the wonderful presents Santa had brought him.
"What presents?" asked his mother. All she could see under the disheveled tree were the few small gifts she could afford that year, bearing tags with Santa's name on them however. They were wrapped in white tissue paper and tied with slender red ribbon, salvaged from previous years wrapping.
"Why, my three beautiful parrot friends over there perched on the arm of the davenport", replied Tony. "Can't you see them over there? One is chewing on the lace doily, and the other two have their heads tucked under their wings, napping."
His mother realized Tony was playing a game and she quickly thought fast enough to come up with, "They sure are pretty Tony." She smiled at the vividness of the boy's imagination and turned to walk into the kitchen to start breakfast.
Tony was stunned his mother couldn't see what was so plainly visible to him. There they were, perched right beside him plain as day!
Jade, with the smiling orange beak, who was most like Tony of the three spoke up, "We came into your life Tony to show you that beauty, acceptance and happiness lie within your heart. God created all of us equal but you have always chosen to feel different and on the outside of things, never fitting in. I have two toes that don't look and work right but when you saw me, you didn't stare at my toes and dislike me for it. You immediately loved me simply for who I am and felt closer to me because you saw our similarities."
Next, lovely Ruby chimed in with, "When you looked in my eyes Tony you noticed they were an unusual shade of amber. But remember how you didn't hesitate for a second to look further inside me. When you REALLY looked you saw the tender feelings and great love that dwell inside of me for all of God's creatures be they two legged, four legged or winged."
Little pink Rosie also spoke her message for Tony. "You should have seen how I looked when Santa found me lying on the shelf! My head was squashed into a perfect cone shape and I was tan colored. Santa painted me up pretty, but the feathers on my head still won't lay down worth a darn. They stand straight up at the most embarrassing times. To make matters worse, Santa painted me the oddest shade of pink for a parrot. But you didn't laugh at my unruly crest or my outrageous color. You loved me because you could see my cheerful attitude no matter what happens and the way I always make the best of any situation."
Jade limped over and nuzzled against Tony's cheek. He told Tony, "The three of us are very real in your life my dear boy. We will be with you the rest of your life guiding you through the tough times you may encounter. We will be here to help you with life's lessons and guard you against trouble. We will help you to see things in their true perspective and keep you focused through the forgiving lens of unconditional love.
The three guardian angels perched around Tony's shoulders as he sat quietly and gazed at the Christmas tree. He could hear Bing Crosby crooning Silent Night through the scratches on the 78 rpm. record and smell the hot Ovaltine his mother had just handed him. Tony was filled with a mysterious comforting warmth. He knew Santa had brought him the best present he would ever get!
 
 ake him to visit Santa Claus. She had promised to take him every day for the last week but couldn't get off work in time. He really hoped she would make it home in time today, because this was Christmas Eve and he wasn't sure if Santa Claus would have enough time to hear his request.

Tony and his mother were just barely making it in every way. Sometimes the bills weren't paid on time and they ate a lot of oatmeal and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to get through the month.
His father had been a wonderfully heroic Marine who went to war and fought in Guadalcanal but didn't return when the war was over. Tony kept an album of photos of his dad, sent home from the war. He was very proud of this handsome, grinning dad he had never met, all decked out in uniform. His dad had thick wavy dark hair, a pencil thin moustache and eyes the color of a foaming, stormy sea he was told by his mother. Tony could also tell this from the black and white photos he studied for hours at a time and he had memorized every feature and line on his dad's face. He so desired to know that father he would never meet. Being a brave Marine was something to be proud of, but the medals the government sent home could never fill the hole in Tony's heart because he didn't have a father. All his school mates had fathers.....
The only job that Tony's mother could find in town was doing waitress work at the Owl Diner. During the war she worked as a drill press operator at the government plant that manufactured airplane parts. After the war, one by one these plants closed and single women found what work they could. She worked many hard hours and made the money stretch the best she could. Christmas season added to her already long hours. Tony hardly saw her at all during this time of year.
Why, it was only yesterday that they went to the Christmas tree lot and found their tree lying in a deserted field. It was one of a few crooked, scraggly looking specimens that hadn't sold and were left for the poor folks to pick up for free. They brought it home and decorated it with popcorn, cranberry and marshmallow garlands. One much-prized, repaired strand of bubbling lights Tony had found in the neighbor's garbage after last Christmas and a bit of leftover, scrunched up tinsel from the previous years completed the embellishments. A faded celluloid angel hovered precariously atop the tree, her cardboard wings dog-eared from many years of being packed away for the other eleven months. But Tony loved his newly transformed tree and focused on the warmth he felt from it. Every time he looked outside all he saw was the bitter cold and the frozen ground that crunched when you stepped on it.
The wonderful glow of the Christmas tree filled his vision and temporarily took his awareness away from the sparse condition of their house. There lay the faded old floral carpet on the hard wood floor with bare paths worn into its surface from foot traffic and half the fringe missing on the edges. The brown velour horse hair sofa was broken down here and there but a most comfortable place to sit and 'wool-gather' magical thoughts just the same. Because it was full of worn spots his mother pinned white crocheted doilies over all the holes. They were forever slipping off and Tony was always very careful to replace them before she came home. The thin tattered curtains that hung over the windows hid the cracking paint on the sills, but did nothing to keep the cold out. It was indeed a very modest house but it was a roof over their heads.
Tony had a bad winter cold that went into his ears the last few days before Christmas vacation and he stayed home from school. He welcomed the opportunity to stay home because school was not the happiest place he could think of to be, anyhow. He was born with a club-foot and needed special corrective shoes made to accommodate his condition. He even wore a brace on his leg part of the time. This was an expense his mother could ill afford but she always saw to it that he was taken care of as his feet and bones grew.
Of course classmates being what they will, saw Tony looked different and he was the brunt of their teasing and jokes. He was a very shy boy anyhow and the ridicule made him withdraw even further. By seven years old he knew he was so different that he didn't even try to fit in anywhere. He was never picked for any team on the playground because he couldn't run and play with boys his age. Heaven forbid at that age he pal around with the girls because then he would be labeled a sissy. Tony was forced to live in his own world inside of himself where it was safe, there was a measure of comfort and no one would make fun of him or hurt his feelings.
His tousled strawberry blonde hair didn't help things either. Darn hair would never lie down and he chose to wear a cap whenever he could so no one would notice his mop of shocking hair and make rude comments. Then too his eyes were still another unusual color.....kind of like the rich amber glow of the single candle that lit the tiny ceramic Nativity scene on the coffee table. The Nativity scene his dad bought for his mother the first Christmas they were together back in 1942. Poor little Tony, he seemed to have none of the outward appearances that would allow him fit in anywhere.
As he sat waiting for his mother he kept thinking what it was he was going to ask Santa Claus for. Since Tony spent so much time sitting by the window looking out, he always noticed the birds outside. They were so happy and free and they all seemed to get along with one another very well. He loved birds. Then too a few months back he saw a Parakeet up close in a cage at Woolworth's five and dime. It was the most beautiful shade of iridescent grass green and it even paid attention when he went up and talked softly to it. This could be a friend that Tony could have that wouldn't judge him or laugh at him. He even heard that Parakeets could be taught to talk. Tony was going to ask Santa to bring him a bird for Christmas!
Finally he saw the beams of headlights swing across the yard and he heard his mother pull into the driveway. Tony rushed to turn off the record player because he was only supposed to be listening to it when his mother was at home. She was afraid he might break one of the old heavy black vinyl discs if he played them by himself. However he couldn't resist sneaking his favorite Bing Crosby song "White Christmas" on the turn table. Plus he loved to open the big ersatz alligator case and study the RCA dog Nipper, whose picture was inside the case, as he listened. He had actually been dressed and ready to go for hours when he met her at the door all bundled up. His mother told him she had checked and that if they hurried, they would just catch Santa at Penney's Department Store before they closed.
Tony rushed through the door of Penney's way ahead of his mother. Something told him they were really late. He knew Santa was located on the mezzanine and Tony raced up the stairs as fast as his clumsy shoe would allow him to travel. Just in the nick of time too, as Santa had gotten up from his huge gold filigree throne-chair and was turning the floodlights out that lit up the word "Toyland".
Santa turned toward Tony and saw his anxious expression, asking him, "What can I do for you young man? What would you like me to bring you for Christmas? Do you have a list for me?"
Tony was in such a hurry the words tumbled out all over one another, "Santa, Santa, would you please, please bring me that beautiful little green Parakeet that I saw at Woolworth's?"
"That's all I want this Christmas. I promise I have been very, very good and if you bring me this little bird then I will have a good friend to talk to. Please Santa?" Tony begged.
Santa peered over his gold-rimmed glasses into Tony's wide, excited amber eyes, seeing beyond those eyes right into Tony's heart. Santa's heart tenderly felt the plea Tony was making to him in his need for a companion that would return his love and friendship, unconditionally.
Santa then said, "We'll see what we can do for you my fine young man."
This statement was accompanied with a promising wink. Santa gently lifted Tony from his lap, handing him a candy cane with a red satin bow and a small red net stocking filled with fruits, nuts and hard candy.
"I'll need to be going now Tony, if I am to find you a bird before morning," Santa told him with a big grin, as he walked down the cardboard-snow covered stairs from his special golden chair. Tony watched as Santa turned to leave, still filled with excitement over getting to tell Santa of his one wish for Christmas.
The words "I BELIEVE in Santa Claus." formed softly on Tony's lips, as his eyes followed the first leg of Santa's departure for the North Pole through the elevator door at Penney's. .
As they trudged down the icy sidewalk toward their old gray '42, four-door Chevy that usually ran, Tony confided in his mother what he asked Santa for. His request caused her to raise her eyebrows a bit but she smiled sweetly and said a silent prayer.
When they returned home, Tony's mom made hot Ovaltine and they toasted marshmallows pierced with forks over the burners on the gas stove. He was very content with the thought that he had at least gotten to see Santa and make his wish.
Tony thought he would never get to sleep that Christmas Eve as he tossed and turned restlessly. Would Santa really bring him a little bird-friend? Finally, he quietly made his way into the living room, dragging a heavy paisley-print goose down comforter in tow. A big black metal flashlight his dad had used in the Marines was tucked in beside him in case Santa needed light to find Tony's house. He would just snuggle up under the quilt and wait for Santa Claus with one eye open.......
Meanwhile, Santa was fit to be tied with Tony's request. It was the very last minute when Santa threw open the door to his work shop, not knowing where he would find the materials to manufacture a bird....of all things!! Santa's mind couldn't erase that expression of anticipation and eagerness that he saw in little Tony's imploring eyes. He knew if he looked, maybe he could find some discarded forms of toys that had broken and been put aside. Maybe he could piece something together that would resemble a bird. Santa began to search the nooks and crannies of his cluttered workshop.
First he found the papier-m?ch? form of a parrot in a storage bin...and here was another about the same size in the bottom of a box. Poor little creature had two toes missing though. Then he looked up on the shelf and he found still another smaller form of a parrot but because it had been crammed and squished into the corner so long it had a permanently pointed head.
Santa thought to himself, "Well I should be able to get one good looking bird out of all this!"
He picked up his paint and brushes, and proceeded to color the birds in. Santa reasoned because it is Christmas I will paint one red and one green then see which one looks the best. He did notice the one with the two toes missing needed to be repaired before he painted it. Quickly he formed two more toes from wire and paper and glued them on the foot of the green bird. They didn't quite fit right, but it was close. The brush in Santa's hand moved swiftly, applying the large areas of color. Why he even got carried away and stroked on a few accent colors here and there, to break up the monotony of just plain red and green. The red bird was perfect in every way and the green one was nearly perfect too if you didn't look closely at the toes.
Santa started to clean his brush and had it half way rinsed when the funny little form on the workbench with the pointed head caught his eye. The red color he used last was diluted by now on his brush and he quickly swirled the brush tip through the white to create a vibrant pink. He decided to apply a coat of that bright odd color to the strange little head and body. Now what have I done he asked himself? It is way too bright and shocking for a bird's coloring. He dipped into the black and then white and blended a coat of gray on the back to tone it down a bit. Now this little bird turned out pretty good too, he thought.
As he waited for their colors to dry, he thought about his next decision. Which bird to take to Tony? Santa sat there looking at his handiwork trying to decide which two he should leave behind at the North Pole. He couldn't make up his mind. He knew Tony needed a good friend so why not take him three faithful feathered friends? So deciding, Santa wiggled his nose, blinked his eyes and worked his special Christmas magic to bring the trio of parrots to life.
The Red Shining One gazed with sweet elegance at Santa from her shelf perch and the Green Glistening One turned his head to the side and thanked Santa for the gift of life. Well, the Soft Pink Fluffy One did a deep bow of gratitude and screeeeched a hearty Christmas cheer. She also hastened to show Santa she could raise and lower her crest at will, so he wouldn't worry her head was permanently ruined and would stay pointed forever.
"What a group!" Santa shouted proudly, thrilled with his last minute creation. All the Elf helpers who had been watching Santa's last minute miracle, cheered in unison for their jolly leader's success.
"Now we must hurry to make our rounds this night or we will disappoint all the boys and girls all over the world," Santa urged the feathered trio.
The three parrots held a group meeting among themselves while Santa and the Elves were loading the sleigh with presents. The birds were so very grateful that Santa rescued them from the dark, dusty forgotten corners of the workshop, painted them such wondrous colors and given them life, they wanted to help him. They had a plan....
Since these parrots were from the Southern Hemisphere and knew the geography of that part of the world so well, they offered to help Santa navigate the sleigh. They could help him make much better time, particularly on his route below the Equator. The feathered trio felt responsible for Santa running so late. If he hadn't taken the time to create them, he would already be at the first child's house in Greenland by now.
The Red Shining One and The Green Glistening One flew out in front of the sleigh and traveled a little above Rudolph, one on each side. From this vantage point they could see forever and tell the reindeer where to stop. Red on the right and Green on the left as is known to be proper in navigation. The Soft Pink Fluffy One decided she would be better off cuddling under Santa's beard, reading the world map and keeping him company during the trip. Besides, she was a tad bit fearful her top knot just might come undone in the wind and her pointed head would return for good.
Santa's flying caravan made its way through the world that Christmas Eve in record time, with the help of the wonderful winged ones navigation skills. They saved Tony's house for their last stop because they wanted to be sure that Santa had their help the whole evening. Besides, with all the expert help, Santa was way ahead of schedule.
They checked for a chimney, but Tony's house had no chimney for Santa to climb down. The parrots were relieved because they worried that their newly painted tail feathers might get singed, or at least full of soot with the traditional method of descent into the room. Santa checked all the windows but they were locked tightly. The Soft Pink Fluffy One came forward to volunteer her services.
"I can chew through that rusty screen and old wood frame of the window in less than five minutes." she squeaked in her piping shrill voice.
She did just that and they were able to spring the lock and climb through the window in a twinkling. They were very very quiet so they wouldn't wake Tony, who was sleeping soundly on the divan. Safely delivered, Santa bid a grateful farewell to his new friends who had helped him so much that night. The three parrots also thanked Santa for giving them the wonderful gift of life for Christmas. Then they all perched on the window-sill and watched as Santa and his sleigh disappeared into the cold winter air.
The birds decided to catch a quick nap before dawn, but the long trip had left them very hungry. They kept half-opening one eye to peer out at all the potential treats hanging on the tree in the middle of the room. It was just too tempting and the Soft Pink Fluffy One couldn't stand it any more. She tippy toed across the room and snagged the string of popcorn. The Red Shining One spied the cranberries and The Green Glistening One was also on his way to fill his empty stomach. He tried to perch in the branches but they were too fragile to hold him and he went ker-bang onto the floor. At the same time The Red Shining One decided to fly away with the end of the cranberry string in her mouth. The air was filled with wing beats, crashes and squawks.
Tony came to with a start and wasn't sure if he was still dreaming. The room was occupied with three giant birds the likes of what Tony had never seen before. Plus they had made a shambles out of the Christmas tree.
He thought to himself, "But I only asked Santa for one little green Parakeet!"
When all the commotion died down and Tony realized that Santa had really fulfilled his wish and then some, he began to talk with the birds. He said, "All of you need names," and proceeded to name The Red Shining One, Ruby, for she was radiant, like the sparkle of a beautifully cut precious gem. The Green Glistening One became Jade, as he was the translucent color of the stunning green stone that comes from far off China. Of course the name was very obvious for The Soft Pink Fluffy One! She would be called little Rosie. She reminded Tony of the delicate pink roses that grew on the bush in the garden that his dad had planted before the war.
As Tony became acquainted with each parrot he noticed some small details peculiar to each one. First of all, Rosie's feathers stood up on top of her head just like Tony's hair would do when he didn't have a cap on to hold his hair down. Her feather color was even strawberry....it almost matched Tony's hair.
He looked into Ruby's eyes and saw they were a deep amber color like the necklace his mom so often wore. Peering into the mirror he realized his own eyes were about that same shade.
But he decided his most favorite bird was Jade, with his bright orange grinning beak. As he held Jade he was shocked to see that the bird had two crooked toes on the same foot as Tony's club-foot. When Tony put him on the floor Jade even walked with a slight limp....the same as Tony! He was amazed as he began to notice all the similarities between himself and these new friends.
He spent several hours getting acquainted and talking to the birds that happy Christmas morning. Tony's mother was so tired from working long hours before Christmas she slept long past her normal time to wake up. When she did come into the living room, eyes still filled with sleep, she asked Tony, "How come the tree is all torn apart?"
The sound of her voice startled Tony and as he turned to look at her he saw her image softly outlined in the doorway against the weak winter light. She had a delicate pink chenille house coat on and her uncombed strawberry blonde hair was a mass of tousled ringlets. But her eyes....they glowed in that clear winter light as beautiful glowing embers burning in new fallen snow! Tony had never seen how he truly resembled his mother in appearance. He suddenly saw how beautiful she really was and it hit him how foolish he had been to think he looked 'funny' to others. He looked very like his mother and could see himself through re-focused eyes.
Tony looked back in the direction of his new feathered friends and excitedly asked his mom what she thought about the wonderful presents Santa had brought him.
"What presents?" asked his mother. All she could see under the disheveled tree were the few small gifts she could afford that year, bearing tags with Santa's name on them however. They were wrapped in white tissue paper and tied with slender red ribbon, salvaged from previous years wrapping.
"Why, my three beautiful parrot friends over there perched on the arm of the davenport", replied Tony. "Can't you see them over there? One is chewing on the lace doily, and the other two have their heads tucked under their wings, napping."
His mother realized Tony was playing a game and she quickly thought fast enough to come up with, "They sure are pretty Tony." She smiled at the vividness of the boy's imagination and turned to walk into the kitchen to start breakfast.
Tony was stunned his mother couldn't see what was so plainly visible to him. There they were, perched right beside him plain as day!
Jade, with the smiling orange beak, who was most like Tony of the three spoke up, "We came into your life Tony to show you that beauty, acceptance and happiness lie within your heart. God created all of us equal but you have always chosen to feel different and on the outside of things, never fitting in. I have two toes that don't look and work right but when you saw me, you didn't stare at my toes and dislike me for it. You immediately loved me simply for who I am and felt closer to me because you saw our similarities."
Next, lovely Ruby chimed in with, "When you looked in my eyes Tony you noticed they were an unusual shade of amber. But remember how you didn't hesitate for a second to look further inside me. When you REALLY looked you saw the tender feelings and great love that dwell inside of me for all of God's creatures be they two legged, four legged or winged."
Little pink Rosie also spoke her message for Tony. "You should have seen how I looked when Santa found me lying on the shelf! My head was squashed into a perfect cone shape and I was tan colored. Santa painted me up pretty, but the feathers on my head still won't lay down worth a darn. They stand straight up at the most embarrassing times. To make matters worse, Santa painted me the oddest shade of pink for a parrot. But you didn't laugh at my unruly crest or my outrageous color. You loved me because you could see my cheerful attitude no matter what happens and the way I always make the best of any situation."
Jade limped over and nuzzled against Tony's cheek. He told Tony, "The three of us are very real in your life my dear boy. We will be with you the rest of your life guiding you through the tough times you may encounter. We will be here to help you with life's lessons and guard you against trouble. We will help you to see things in their true perspective and keep you focused through the forgiving lens of unconditional love.
The three guardian angels perched around Tony's shoulders as he sat quietly and gazed at the Christmas tree. He could hear Bing Crosby crooning Silent Night through the scratches on the 78 rpm. record and smell the hot Ovaltine his mother had just handed him. Tony was filled with a mysterious comforting warmth. He knew Santa had brought him the best present he would ever get!
 
 

Flying Home...A Christmas Story By Susie Christian




Contrary to what I was used to, this early December in Los Angeles had to be the absolute coldest I could ever remember. I huddled in a ball to conserve my body heat and laid motionless a bit longer in my sleeping bag. My head was pulled under the flannel-lined flap to keep my face and ears from freezing. Opening one eye I saw it was still inky black outside the windows and obviously not time to get up yet. I was lying there thinking. Thinking can be a dangerous thing when you are homeless.
Where had I come from and how did I get here? I came from one of those average Ozzie and Harriet families and had a quite normal upbringing. My mother and father supplied me with everything a girl could want. Church was a part of my life six days a week as well as private schooling. We lived in the central San Joaquin Valley in a very small, tightly knit farming town. Everybody knew everybody and cared. I did my share of working in the crops and driving tractor, pitching in to help during the harvest. Because we lived on twenty acres, I had many pets. Some were invited and others were just stray dogs and cats that were dumped beside the road by folks who no longer wanted them. I spent many long and happy carefree hours exploring the fields, canal banks and adjacent river with my entourage of four legged friends. A lovely simple life.
But where did this normal life get different? First clue was what I picked as a hopeful profession, printed under my senior picture in the yearbook. "Commercial Artist" was under my name, big as life! I looked down my nose at the girls who put "Housewife" under their photos. What a dull future that sounded like to me. During my senior year I sent away for the handbook describing the curriculum and teachers from Art Center College. I carried it with me in my yellow Pee-Chee folder the rest of the school year, as if it was sacred, fondling it and thumbing through the pages until they were worn from the constant caress of my fingers. This was the college I passionately wanted to attend. I also knew the tuition was astronomical and my chances were extremely slim. But I could dream.
Life took a totally unexpected turn and after graduating I married my high school sweetheart. We were happy for several years but when I expressed the desire to return to the local college he decided differently. However creativity was in my blood and I wasn't content to stay home and paint still lifes. A still life is what I felt I really had.
During this time I made friends with several local artists who were moving to Los Angeles to attend a well-known print making school. Los Angeles! I wanted to go too. I knew I was a good artist. On the sly, I mailed a portfolio of my drawings and paintings to Art Center. I was shocked and thrilled two weeks later when they sent me a letter of acceptance. I had heard from others it sometimes took many tries to even get accepted into this school. Now what to do?
My friends had already moved to Los Angeles and kept in touch with me. They mentioned there was a large studio apartment next door to them for $55.00 a month rent. I made the decision to leave my husband and the relative safety of my home town, to start a big scary new adventure. During the two years of my marriage I had done baby sitting and sold many of my paintings so I had some money saved up. My aunt said she would help me out with tuition and I knew I could apply for student loans too.
I packed up just the necessities that would fit into my 1964 Volkswagen van and headed for the big city. We looked like the Beverly Hillbillies as we entered Hollywood. My poor overloaded blue van struggling down Hollywood Boulevard piled high with clothes, art supplies and my lone yellow canary, Petey.
The apartment 'reserved' for me was shabby and smelled funny, kind of a stale nasty odor that gagged me. But then most of LA smelled that way I found out later. The apartment house was located in a neighborhood full of decaying derelict cars and people to match. This was just the first of many surprises for this small town girl. It was the late 60's, there were hippies everywhere and the sounds of the Rolling Stones and the Moody Blues could be heard blasting from the open windows across the way. I could peek out my apartment door and see questionable looking men in fancy colored shiny suits that drove up in big Cadillacs, being chased down the halls by the police. Drug deals were constantly being made on the street under my window. I was frightened most of the time but I was also focused on my schooling.
After the second semester my finances were beginning to run dangerously low and I moved to another apartment building to save money. This very tiny dingy studio apartment was only $40.00 a month. It was grayer and smellier than the last. At night when I turned the lights out I could hear the cockroaches scraping along the walls and ceiling. If I turned the lights on again, the huge black creatures would scurry into the baseboards and cracks in the ceiling. It didn't matter to me and I felt I could put up with anything to stay in art school.
Why I had the finest teachers in the country here. Two of my design teachers had done the art-work and animation of Disney's "Fantasia". My fashion teacher was an internationally known artist and his drawings could be seen in all the fashion magazines. My life-drawing teacher had published two books of his work. Another teacher had many paintings in the LA Art Museum and museums all over the US. I was learning so much. I felt like a giant sponge, soaking it all up to the last drop.
The passing of three more semesters more saw me out of money completely but with the aid of my aunt and a small student loan I had just enough to cover one more semester's tuition. Only thing was I didn't have the money for rent. But I had a Volkswagen van that everything I owned would fit in. Even Petey, the canary.
I noticed there was a large clump of bushes in the most remote part of the school parking lot where no one ever parked. If I pulled in just so, I could be all but invisible to most people. I had moved into my van in the fall and the custodians kept a watch on me while pretending they didn't see me. It seemed relatively safe parked here. There was no sacrifice I wouldn't make to stay in art school. I cheerfully went without many creature comforts during the first homeless autumn months but the unexpected bone chilling cold of this December was starting to wear on me. Petey and I were having trouble staying even luke-warm and we shook and froze every night.
As I lay there in my VW, which felt more like an ice-box, my thoughts drifted back to my childhood and the image of our magnificent roaring fireplace with my dad feeding huge split-oak logs to the hungry licking orange flames. I remembered how delicious the steaming toasted brown marshmallows were as he took them off the bent coat hangers and handed them to me. This special treat would melt all warm and gooey in my mouth. Thoughts like this seemed to warm my heart and body temporarily.
Very briefly I had dozed off for what I thought was a few minutes but it had to have been longer. Petey was jumping back and forth from perch to perch under his cage cover and chirping. The first weak light of the winter dawn was coming in through the psychedelic paisley patterned curtained windows. I was still hesitant to move from the warmth of my sleeping bag but I could hear a faint strange noise toward the front of the van. My first thought was that it could be a potential robber and I felt a shock of fear run through me. But it seemed to be a scratch scratching on my front windshield. Then I heard a chewing sound. Maybe it was a friend who knew I was camping out here and trying to get my attention. I quietly made my way to the front of the van and tried to see through the iced up windshield.
What I saw was unbelievable. There were several places in the ice I could see through and as I put my eye to the biggest hole, I saw a brilliant orange flash of color and what seemed to be the eye of a bird peering back at me. Oblivious to how much colder it was going to be once I was outside, I opened the door gingerly and peered around the front of the van to see what could be there. Sitting on my spare tire cover was a green parrot looking calmly back at me. I figured it would fly away when it saw me but no, it kept its position on its icy perch. Figuring I had nothing to lose, I went toward it and slowly extended my hand. I reasoned I could get bitten but I felt no fear for some reason. The large iridescent green bird with the incredible Day-glow orange beak stepped right up onto my hand as if it was already familiar with me.
I moved very slowly back into the van with my new green friend, muttering a silent prayer it wouldn't take off and closed the door gently. At least it couldn't fly away if I had it inside with me. I still wasn't sure if I was going to draw back a bloody finger full of lacerations or not. Placing it carefully on the seat back, I took a good look at it and the mysterious green parrot also seemed to be sizing me up as well. Because I loved any sort of animal, particularly the lost and strays of the world, we established immediate eye contact and in that split second we knew we would be friends.
"But what are you, where did you come from and how did you get here?" I asked of the new guest out loud. It seemed to want to reply with a low melodic sound from deep within its throat. I knew it was a parrot for starters. For some reason it seemed immediately important for it to have a name and from this artist's point of view Verde seemed to fit. I saw that word daily on all my green paint tubes.
"You must be hungry," was my next assumption, as I fumbled around to find my loaf of bread to share a crust with the creature. There was also Petey's bird-seed and a small bag of red apples I had bought yesterday. Verde-parrot was ravenous and hungrily ate everything I offered it. Petey canary hadn't settled down since he 'discovered' the visitor for me earlier. It looked like he was thrilled to have the new buddy on board.
My first class was at nine o'clock that morning and I really hesitated leaving Verde alone in my van without a cage. I wasn't too sure he wouldn't hurt little Petey or worse, gobble him up. Verde was so much bigger than the diminutive canary. Because the new bird seemed to have settled in happily using the passenger's side seat back as his perch, I put blankets and towels over the front seats in the van. Placing a dish full of food and a bowl of water on the seat I went to my class praying he wouldn't tear my 'home' up.
Curious just what type of parrot had flown into my world, I went to the school library during my morning break and had a devil of a time finding just what he was. After studying many books on birds I finally pulled an old yellowing volume from the shelf and on page 249 there was a description of a "Noble Parrot", originating from the area of New Guinea and the surrounding islands. There were no color pictures to double check but the engraving looked pretty close to my guest's appearance and the description sounded like a match. I felt confident it must be a male Eclectus parrot. I'd never seen any parrot much larger than a budgie and I remembered my cousin had a cockatiel back home. I thought of that cockatiel as a giant compared to the smaller pet birds I was familiar with. Verde I thought, at least I gave him a masculine name.
During my lunch hour I raced out to the van to make sure he was all right. He hadn't moved from his perch on the seat. As I caught a glimpse of him through the window I saw how he incredibly beautiful he was with the mid day sun hitting his feathers. He glowed! I carefully opened the sliding door and crawled in behind him. As I sat down he cocked his head, looked at me with one brilliant golden eye and said "Hello" in a clear deep voice. I about fell over. I'd never heard a bird talk before. Petey sang well, budgies and the cockatiel chattered but I could never make heads or tails out of their gibberish. This amazing parrot said hello to me. Unbelievable!
The afternoon's class seemed to drag on forever and I had some homework due the next day, which I stayed late to finish. It was almost dark when I returned to my home and my two friends. There he was sitting in the same place except there was evidence he had been down to the seat, eaten most of the food and it looked like he also drank some water. But he was a perfect gentleman and the rest of my 'home' was intact and untouched.
I managed to beg some vegetable trimmings from the cafeteria and also scored an over ripe pear, an orange and a banana from a still life set up in an adjacent class-room. He watched me intently as I cut up the fruit and vegetables and refilled his bowl. When I was done I moved away to observe him once again. We did have the benefit of a dimly distant parking lot light, which burned all night long. The big green bird went right down and ate like he was starved. Sitting there watching him eat I seemed to forget the advancing chill of the evening. When he was stuffed full he wiped his brilliant orange beak and climbed back up the seat to the top, relaxed and fluffed up his feathers. I was thrilled to see him looking so content.
Verde lowered his eyelids and started mumbling to himself under his breath. I listened hard, trying to pick up a random word I thought I was hearing here and there. I imagined I could hear him saying, "How are you," with maybe a "Hi" and a "Hello" every so often.
He kept up his chatter for the better part of a half an hour. With his head tucked under his wing it looked to me like he was talking into his feathers. But he suddenly pulled his beak out from behind his wing, extended his neck toward me and said in a very plain voice, "I love you." My eyes welled up with tears and for the first time the realization hit me that he was someone's much loved pet. I also knew I needed to figure out a way to find his owner.
People usually posted notices of lost cats and dogs on telephone poles. I had been primarily on foot the last three months and would have remembered a notice for a lost bird. Maybe I could check the school bulletin board and I knew the neighborhood laundromat had a place for notices too. I'd look tomorrow.
Worn out from a long school day and the excitement of my new friend, I crawled into my sleeping bag and fell fast asleep. At some point during the night I had the sensation of my hair and face being lightly touched and briefly opened my eyes. There he was in the dim light. He had found his way to the back of the van where I slept and was preening my hair and nibbling gently on the sleeping bag zipper. I was too sleepy to be afraid of him and dozed off again right away after watching him a few minutes. In the morning when I awoke there he was, huddled right up against the hollow of my neck and face. During that night I never even noticed the cold. It seemed the warmth of his body or maybe just his presence made the old van-home seem toasty warm.
I knew I should start looking for Verde's owner but my mind found any excuse not to. This incredible bird was rapidly becoming the focal point of my days and my life. By the next day we established he wasn't going to bite me and he would step up on my hand and walk up to my shoulder when invited. During breaks I found myself running to the van to take him a morsel of food someone had left behind in the cafeteria or just go talk to him and watch him for a few minutes. I had not let anyone know I had found him. The biggest part of me wanted to keep him forever.
I found some discarded tinsel and ornaments that had seen better days on one of my walks around the affluent neighborhood where I lived. The Hancock Park district of Los Angeles surrounded my school. This was a very old, wealthy neighborhood with magnificent homes, some of which had carriage houses in the back with servant's quarters above them. Certainly a great place for poor folks to raid garbage cans on the morning of garbage pick up.
To make our home seem a bit festive for the upcoming holiday I hung the tinsel and faded ornaments on the van's psychedelic curtains, we listened to Christmas music on my transistor radio and I bought a cheap fruit-cake with my shrinking cash reserve. Verde delightedly picked the nuts from his share of the treat. There was tinsel and decorations on the light standards and every store-front forecast the arrival of Christmas. We too had our own holiday atmosphere.
Almost three weeks had passed and it was getting nearer to Christmas. School let out for the holiday break. I was thrilled because I was able to spend more time with my little canary and Verde. By now Verde and I were inseparable, he slept right near me every night and wasn't far from my side during the day. The thought of looking for his owner had faded from my memory and his presence kept my spirits going during this cold and otherwise emotionally bleak season. I couldn't imagine life without his lovely green closeness.
It was Christmas Eve and I was cleaning things up a bit in our home. Living with two birds in a small space required me to be very tidy. As I was changing the newspaper under where Verde sat I happened to notice it was opened to the classified section. There was a fleeting thought to look in the lost and found column. I didn't want to look but I did anyhow. I had found the stack of paper in my painting class and noticed the date as being a few weeks old. Of course my eye went right to the entry in the column. It said, "*Lost* Large green parrot. Answers to the name Velvet. Hancock Park area." It had a phone number as well.
Immediately what seemed like a big dark wet cloud of gloom settled down around me. Tears came to my eyes. I put my hand out to Verde and he stepped up as always. Cuddling him to my breast I stroked him gently and as each tear dropped onto his feathers they turned a light brown color wherever each tear landed. He seemed to know what sorrow I was feeling and remained there huddled against me for the better part of an hour.
Somehow I had even given him a name that sounded like Velvet. Verde wasn't far off and he responded to it as soon as I began calling him that.
There was no way I could part with this remarkable bird. I just would pretend to myself I had never seen this ad in the newspaper and make sure no one ever found out I had him. That is what I would do.
Christmas Eve was a bitter-sweet evening for me. I felt so fortunate to have wonderful Verde and Petey there to keep me company but my conscience kept bothering me with thoughts of, "It's not right", and "It's not the honest thing to do." My mind was swimming with conflicting thoughts and it took many hours to get to sleep that night.
The morning of Christmas I woke up with the clarity of what I had to do. I reasoned if it were my bird and it was lost, how would I feel if someone found it, read the lost and found and didn't return it? This was a hard decision to make indeed but my conscience felt better because I needed to be honest.
Putting it off as long as I could, I waited until late morning, walked down to the corner with newspaper in hand, deposited my dime and dialed the number. After I dialed the last digit I had the urge to hang up the receiver and was a split second from doing so when a voice answered after the first ring. I had to talk now. It was a pleasant low masculine voice with a hint of a British accent.
"I think I may have found your lost parrot," I managed to blurt out, wanting to take the words back as soon as they were out of my mouth.
Silence.
Then he questioned, "Can you describe the bird?" and "Where did you find it?"
With much hesitation in my voice I told him the circumstances and gave him a description. The minute I saw the notice in the paper I knew it was the bird that was advertised for anyhow.
He confirmed it was indeed his lost and much missed parrot and wanted to pick it up from me. I thought quick and offered to bring it to him. There was no way I could let anyone see that I lived in a van, particularly a gentleman with such a lovely polite voice on the telephone.
Dragging my feet all the way back to the van I was feeling very sad and down. What would I do without my green bird-love who had brought me such happiness and was really my very best friend. I could still change my mind. He didn't know where I lived after all. No, that thinking just wouldn't work.
Knowing I had to do this fast so I wouldn't have time to change my mind, I asked Verde to step up and I put him securely under my coat so he wouldn't fly away again. The address given to me was only a few blocks away. Walking briskly to keep the momentum of my decision going, I cuddled Verde to me one last time and told him how much I loved him and thanked him for flying into my life at such an otherwise bleak and desperate time. I peeked down at him nestled in my coat and I'd swear he also had a tear in his eye, although that magnificent orange beak retained its sad-sweet smile.
We were all too soon standing in front of the correct address. The house was enormous! One of those built around the turn of the century with three stories, turrets, many sections and gingerbread everywhere. It looked like pixies and elves could have lived here. There was a massive Della Robbia wreath hanging on the garage door and thick garlands of greenery draped over the huge front door.
Taking a deep breath I rung the door-bell and waited. The ornate, carved door was opened in seconds by a tall slender gentleman, perhaps in his late twenties. I noticed he was very handsome with perfect skin, chiseled features and an incredible mane of thick dark hair.
Intimidated by the house, the man, the whole thing I blurted out, "I have your bird for you all safe and sound."
My first thought was to hand him Verde and run the other way as fast as I could. But he was very warm and composed and delighted to see the top of Verde's head poking out from my jacket.
"Step inside please," He beckoned with a gesture of his arm.
Obeying his command, I was awe struck by the beauty of the interior of his house.
"My name is Ralph. What did you say yours was?" he asked me.
"Jane," I whispered, taken so aback by it all.
He beckoned me to follow him into the room where he kept the birds. It was a huge airy room with very high ceilings and plants of all kinds everywhere I looked. I was still clutching Verde tightly under my coat, pretty obvious I didn't want to let go of him.
Ralph led the way to a huge wrought iron cage that contained a single red parrot. He said, "This is Velvet's mate, Crimson."
From the description in the old book I knew the female of the Eclectus parrot was red. My breath caught as I looked at her. She was equally as stunning as the male, but mostly red with a brilliant blue on her wings and her cadmium yellow tail.... no words for this artist to describe her properly!
I moved closer to the cage and loosened my grip some on my green friend to let him peek out at her. He immediately saw her and struggled to free himself from my confining grip. Clutching the side of the cage, he climbed over as close as he could get to her and they touched beaks through the bars. At that moment I knew I had done the right thing even thought it was the supreme sacrifice of my life.
Knowing I had to leave quickly I bowed my head to hide the emotion I was feeling and turned to go. Ralph then asked me if I hadn't noticed there was a reward for Velvet's return. With a surge of silly pride I hastily told him, "I really can't take a reward."
He caught me as I headed for the door and asked, "Can I drive you home? I saw that you walked here."
What could I say to him? I couldn't let him know I was living in my car!
"No thank you. I'll just walk home," I replied to him as I made my way quickly down the walk.
He followed me, catching up to me with a few long strides and took me gently by the arm. My head still ducked, I just thought I was hiding all those feelings of sadness and desperation so well. He could see right through me. Lonely, poor, confused and giving up this God-sent green angel was the very last straw.
Ralph spoke to me very softly, "Please come in and have some tea with me and let's talk."
He put his arm around me and as we walked up the front steps the comfort I felt almost melted me. It had been so long since I had let any human be that close to me.
We had tea and sat in the bird room to watch Velvet and Crimson with their happy Christmas reunion. Ralph told me how he let them run loose in the house most of the time. The housekeeper had left the window ajar and Velvet flew away the day after Thanksgiving.
That Christmas afternoon seemed to pass so fast. We talked about out lives and the directions we were headed. Ralph was a screen-writer and had inherited this house from his grandmother. I told him of my passion to finish art school and finally admitted my homeless plight.....
Ralph and I will be celebrating our thirtieth wedding anniversary this coming Valentine's Day. We have two children we are very proud of and a grandchild on the way. Gracefully aging, Crimson and Velvet are still the biggest part of my life today, happily sitting side by side in their sun-lit bird room, surrounded by love and greenery. It is only because of them.....

 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Morning fun the birds!

Goofin this morning flew into the kitchen and joins me on my shoulder. She wanted to hang out on the faucet till she noticed two strange birds staring at her. She flew back on my shoulder.
More fun with Daphne, Phil, Fred, Tofu and Starion! Daphne flies out of bird room to Tofu's cage, atop it. She guards Tofu and doesn't like Fred in the room. Goes on Fred's cage and starts trouble! I was bringing Starion out, she doesn't fly out of room. To join us in kitchen. Starion is so loveable and is looking me in face while in both my arms. She likes hanging out in corner while I do breakfast dishes. That wasn't happening! Daphne flies to my head and starts trouble! 

 While typing this Phil flew to my head and has been very loving  lol.

All are out in aviary and getting along great! Love my aviaries! Peace now with my moluccan's.

Monday, October 27, 2014

I have some really GREAT news!

I have some really GREAT news

Yesterday I set out to try and fix a computer that I have that crashed a couple years ago. Went to Costco last week and got a new 23" monitor. Taking a gamble it will work. It didn't at first. Did some googling and made a trip to Best Buy and got a plug to convert it to DVI. I know, computer talk. Brought up a blue screen and I started tapping at the "Escape" key. Went to Boot Menu and after a few tries it finally give me a way to get back on my computer using 1st Master lol.....it was technical!

The blue screen then turned into WINDOW'S VISTA!!!!!

The GREAT news is that I found pictures and video I thought I had lost forever! 

Like these two! 
Or video and pictures of friends coming over and the boys Gus, Gilly, and Gabe on them.
Here sits Dannie with my boys who really liked her and her friend. It was a fun three days! So much to share that I never got around to it...


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Happy Halloween!

Crazy I know! I thought I would say Happy Halloween!
I have been playing around with photoshop and Susie Christian's fonts that she gave me to use. I stole the dead gray off the computer and duplicated it lol...I know its not the greatest work, but fun!
My sweet Goofin! Did you know that Susie Christian is her Mom. And she gave her to me to give her a good home with my birds? 

That's Chili! He is now a brush in photoshop! Kinda like a stamp...I can use this on anything that I am working on in photoshop. 

Susie's "Day Of The Dead" bird I just love! 

Have a safe and Happy Halloween!

Thank you!