I've always loved birds in a Christmas tree.
Our first ornament as a couple was a bird that a friend made - turquoise and red, with a long plume of a tail and a pert little beak. It seemed springish and hopeful and just right for our tree.
It's rather the worse for wear. The kids love it, and in spite of their efforts to be gentle, its tail is frayed and its beak is plain gone.
Tonight I bought six new birds to join it. There were lots of different ones to choose from - hanging feathered silhouettes, plump purple ones with feet that cling and claw around the branch - but I finally settled on small sparkly nestlers that almost hide in the tree.
I don't really know why I love Christmas birds - it certainly doesn't come from a love of partridge, in or out of a pear tree, nor any number of french hens - but I always get a sense of lightness and hope when I see birds.
And Christmas is a time of hope beyond reason. Christmas movies, Christmas miracles, Christmas romances ... all testify to the fact that our weary hearts hope, and hope, persist in hope. Who can look at that God-filled manger, and not feel a swell of hope? We are part of a bigger story. We are not all there is. Our hearts beat like determined wings.
I pray this Christmas finds you with an inexplicable thing-with-feathers perched in your soul. I pray that the weight of winter might be displaced with a dart of bright-winged hope. I pray for the wild sweetness of spring, winging its way to your heart.
Merry Christmas, friends.