Christmas In February FREE
A belated Christmas gift from M. C Arvanitis. Please print it out and read it to your child -- Or let your older child read it.
The Red Bird's Christmas Gift
M. C. Arvanitis
Reggie Cardinal watched the old man walk up the forest path from his house. The man had decorated his house with a green wreath on the door and lighted candles on his windowsills. A little fir tree with red ribbons and glittering pinecones stood by the man's door. He carried a bag in one hand and his cane in the other. He stopped at the mailbox. With a joyful smile, the man pulled a letter from the mailbox. He lived alone and had waited all year for this letter that told him when his family would arrive for their Christmas visit.
Reggie knew that even on the coldest days of winter the old man brought food to the birds of the forest. When the redbird heard the old man whistle for the birds to come for their treat, he joined the other birds on the ground.
Blue jays grabbed the larger seeds and flew to the near by branches to enjoy their tidbit. Tiny brown juncos and yellow finches bravely flew among the bigger birds to get their share.
After the old man fed the birds, he sat on the rock and read his letter. This time, however, instead of smiling at the news, tears came to his eyes. He folded it and placed it in his pocket. He spoke to the birds as he often did. “My family cannot come to spend Christmas with me this year,” he said sadly. “They have made other plans.”
Reggie watched him walk back toward the cabin, leaning heavily on his cane. The old man did not come to the mailbox bringing food for the birds after that. He took the wreath from his door and ornaments off the little fir tree. The candles in the windows went out.
Reggie called the other birds together. “The old man is sad,” he told them. “His family is not going to visit him for Christmas. We should try to cheer him.”
“We cannot. We must be on our way before it gets to cold for us here,” said the yellow finches. They flew away.
“We cannot,” said the juncos. We are too small to help a human person.” They flew away.
“We cannot,” said the jays. “If he is not gong to feed us we must find food somewhere else.” They flew away.
“We cannot,” said the woodpeckers. “We must spend our time looking for insects under the bark of the evergreen trees.” They also flew away.
Only the cardinals stayed. “How can we help?” they asked.
We can not bring the old man’s family to him.” answered Reggie, “But maybe we can cheer him up with our songs.”
The redbirds perched themselves upon the little fir tree by the cabin door. More cardinals appeared. Soon red birds covered the tree from top to bottom singing their sweet song.
When the old man heard them he came out of his house. He smiled for the first time since he had received the letter. “Well now, I have been feeling so sorry for myself that I neglected my forest friends. But even when I don’t feed you, you cheer me up with your songs. We’ll have Christmas after all. I see you have decorated my little tree nicely.”
He rehung the wreath on his door and placed the candles in the windows. Next he brought out his fiddle and played all the Christmas songs he knew.
A loud horn blast sounded above the music. The station wagon drove down the lane with waving children hanging out the window. When the car stopped his grandchildren tumbled out with all the fixings for the Christmas feast.
“The oldest child shouted as she rushed to hug him. “We could not spend our Christmas without our Gramps.”
His daughter, helping the other children from the car, called to him. “We changed our plans, Dad,” We decided that it is not Christmas unless we can be together with you.”
Tears of joy came to the old man’s eyes. Reggie watched as the man led his family into the cabin. He knew there would be no feast at the mailbox until they left but he didn’t care. He was glad to see the old man happy again.