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A bird in the wreath is like five in the house

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(Or how Christmas took an unexpected turn)

By Carolyn Ten Broeck

Work schedules  keep us from visiting our Georgia family and friends as much as we like, so after spending Thanksgiving here in Williston, we decided we were northbound for Christmas.
As usual, the week before Christmas was a blur as I did last minute shopping (done for everyone in less than four hours), wrap said gifts, bake and create goodies, address and mail Christmas cards (no one said they had to arrive before Dec. 25) all the while holding down a full-time job.
Yes, it was a flurry of craziness but somehow it all came together and I managed to pack, assemble and have everything at the front door ready for Tom to load in the car as soon as he walked in the door.
That part went as planned. In fact, most of the trip went as planned.
But what wasn’t planned was just how cold it was in the North Georgia mountains.
With only a peacoat, loafers and thin socks, I wasn’t prepared for the bitter cold that took a bite every time I ventured outside.
Nor was either of us prepared for the snow that came out of nowhere Christmas morning.
Tom’s mom, who is 85, lives an hour away from our children and while she is still more than capable of driving, we thought it best to pick her up for dinner. We encouraged her to spend the night but at the last minute, she decided she really needed to be home. I surmised it was because she didn’t want to miss Mass the next day.
So all five of us crammed into the car (Tom thought the extra weight would help pull up the mountain to Clayton) and we ventured into the blizzard-like conditions.
Granted it was beautiful, but also precarious and I asked, more than once, why in the world would senior citizens retire to a condo on top of a mountain that is impassable during most of the winter?
But I digress.
We dropped Grandma off and started back down the mountain and the snow got heavier and heavier. By the time we got back to our daughter’s, the ground was blanketing the ground where only two hours before, there was none.
We called Grandma to let her know we were OK and then she confided she had called a friend to see about hitching a ride to Mass Sunday. (See, I was right.) The friend, who is older than her (!) said she thought they could stay home and say the Rosary and that would suffice.
We settled in for the night, took some pictures for the scrapbook and enjoyed the calm.
When we awakened Sunday morning, about four inches of snow covered the ground.
That, in itself, isn’t bad. But what is bad is the daughter lives two miles from the highway on a dirt road. She kept pleading with us to stay but we plodded onward.
With only a few tricky spots on the road, we made it to Macon before the snow finally disappeared, leaving only gusty, chilling winds in its wake.
We pulled into the driveway around 6:30 and I suggested we carry everything from the car to the house through the garage. That way I wouldn’t have to herd cats and we could get in and be warm without much ado.
Wrong.
Tom decided to carry stuff through the front door and as soon as he opened it, I saw something soar past his head and into the house.
A bird! It had been nesting in the wreath on the front door and the sudden movement propelled him inside.
And so there we were–Tom waving a towel and me waving my windbreaker as we shooed the bird from the the 10-foot cabinet in the kitchen to the 10-foot captain’s ledge/shelf in the den.
We tried to corral it. We tried to push it toward the door but he was having so much fun tormenting us that we kept up the farcical chase for 20 minutes.
The bird took refuge behind the military honor display we have of our dads. Tom climbed on the arm of the sofa and gently laid each of the photos and flag cases down. The bird darted behind the spider plant.
Tom worked up a sweat traipsing back and forth between the rooms, all the while waving that peach towel (the sight is forever ingrained in my mind.) I was of little help, being vertically challenged and all.
So I made arm motions as it soared by me time and time again.
Once I diverted it into the Christmas tree where OC almost had a snack but the bird was quicker than our sneakiest feline.
Then it zoomed into the library and all I could imagine was the bird finding a home-away-from-home somewhere in the stacks.
“Get it out!” I screamed. “There’s too much crap in here.”
Tired, and almost defeated, Tom shot back, “There’s too much crap in the entire house!” Our sluggish feline Wilder made a go for it but his extra five pounds thwarted a victory.
At last the bird was perched on the open door (yes, the door blasting the arctic wind had been gaping for almost 30 minutes).
“I can shoot it with my BB gun,” said Daniel Boone-like Tom.
I dared him to. Not that I wasn’t willing to sacrifice the bird, but I was afraid of a richochet breaking something or putting a nice dent in my walls.
And so we continued the merry-go-round with our unwelcomed guest. Arms flailing, towel and jacket waving, shuffling around, up and down, up and down.
And then at last, the bird, obviously fatigued from leading this chase, flew into the night and Tom slammed the door shut.
“Is it hot in here?” He asked.
It wasn’t but we both had gotten the best aerobic workout we’d had in months.
In hindsight, it seemed like the right ending to the holiday weekend.
And so now I wait.
Why? Because my Anglo-roots hold a superstition that if a bird flies through your house, it indicates important news.
And with the heads up from the bird, and 2011  right around the corner this is something I can plan for.
Carolyn Ten Broeck is editor of the Williston Pioneer. Contact her at editor@willistonpioneer.com.