Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Not A Creature Was Stirring, Not Even A Bird

by Olivia Greyson, purveyor of all things cookie and pursuer of killers.
From THE COOKIE CUTTER SHOP MYSTERIES, by Virginia Lowell.
Visit Maddie and me in Cookies and Scream, our latest sleuthing adventure

It’s Christmas Eve, and once again I’m remembering my kind, wise, absent-minded father. Dad wasn’t crazy about the whole gift thing, probably because he always forgot to buy any. Mostly he was into the Holidays for the cookies… and, as always, the birds.

I’ve been accused of confusing cookie cutters with tiny metal people, complete with distinct personalities. I got that trait from my father. Despite his amazing knowledge of different bird species, he often talked about birds as if they were little feathered people with wings. Dad could imitate the various calls so well that birds would swoop down from the trees for a heart-to-heart with him. I remember how he tilted his head and listened intently.

One Christmas morning, when I was about seven, I awakened early. Normally, I would run to the living room to empty my stocking in two minutes flat. Instead, I peeked outside through my bedroom curtain. My bedroom faced the backyard. In the early dawn light, I saw my father tossing seeds by the handful. He was surrounded by birds of all sorts—big blue jays, robins, cardinals, finches, chickadees… even one tiny, bold tufted titmouse. To me, he looked like the Pied Piper of Chatterley Heights.

Then Dad bent down to place a small, cookie-sized object on the crusty grass. At that moment—and for years to come, no matter what anyone told me—I was convinced my father had made special cookies for the birds. In fact, as I later learned, he had made little patties of suet, peanut butter, even fruit to hold nuts and seeds.

When he’d distributed his bounty, Dad placed something on his flat palm and held it in the air. I held my breath, wondering if a fairy might land on his hand. What happened was almost as magical. A chickadee flew over and touched down on my father’s fingers. The little bird regarded dad’s face for a second before snatching the seed and flying off.

No matter what anyone says, I do know that cookie cutters, no matter how much I love them, aren’t actually human. Birds, of course, are different. They are living creatures. They are born, have families, and must try to survive in a dangerous world. I’ll never forget watching my father provide a lush holiday feast for those hungry birds on a cold Chatterley Heights morning.

Best present ever.

Do you have a special holiday memory, perhaps one that seemed almost magical at the time? Leave a comment by midnight EST tonight to enter the Seasons Readings Contest for a chance to win a copy of COOKIES AND SCREAM by Virginia Lowell. Don’t forget to leave your email address!

SUBMITTED BY VIRGINIA LOWELL

Virginia Lowell is the author of COOKIE DOUGH OR DIE, A COOKIE BEFORE DYING, WHEN THE COOKIE CRUMBLES, ONE DEAD COOKIE, and COOKIES AND SCREAM. Visit Virginia at www.virginialowell.com

Chickadee Photo: Roland Tanglao/Wikimedia Commons 

45 comments:

  1. All my Christmas memories are special. I can't pick a particular one but I think spending Christmas Day with my 93 yr old Mother and 88 yr old Aunt, both of whom are in assisted living, will be one of the top memories. Merry Christmas to you and your family! dbahn@iw.net

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  2. Lots of wonderful memories and we build more every Christmas. Have a very merry one!
    debby236 at gmail dot com

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  3. 1964. My family came from PA (train), TX (plane), MN (car) to spend the holidays with my folks. Many wonderful memories.
    kpbarnett1941[at]aol.com

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  4. What a nice story. I don't have any. Pp92596 at outlook dot com

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  5. Nice memories.
    dmskrug3 at hotmail dot com

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  6. I have none that are special, most of them were great. grammyd01 (at) comcast (dot) net

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  7. What a beautiful memory. We just bought our first house and will be spending our first Christmas in it - surrounded by boxes and packing paper. I think that it is going to be my special Christmas memory.

    bevarcher AT me DOT com

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  8. I loved your memory! One of my favorite Christmas memories is from two years ago. We had bought our two-year old grandson a ride-on toy and wrapped it in its box. When he pulled enough paper off to see the toy, he couldn't wait to open it, so he climbed inside the box and sat on the toy. I smile (with tears in my eyes) every time I think of this.

    tcuevas@iccable.com

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  9. Vera Wilson said

    Our Christmas in FL when small. When we moved to FL, had planned to go back to get our other stuff, But Dad had a bad fall a few months before and out of work. Money tight, but we were all together. We appreciated all the small things then. All our Christmas Decorations back in SC. No reg Christmas tree, but did have a cute little gumdop tree we sit on the kitchen table.

    snoopysnop1 at yahoo dot com

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  10. I don't have a special holiday memory though I do have some wonderful Christmas memories.
    My sweet dog loves to help people open gift bags. My cousin's little girl was open a Christmas gift bag and Taffy went over to help. I saw both of the girls peering into the bag at the same time. It was adorable!

    myrifraf(at)gmail(dot)com

    Merry Christmas!

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  11. When my husband was stationed in Okinawa, 2 years after we were married, we spent Christmas with all the military families living in our apartment living. It was memorable because we had only known each for one month and we gathered together as one big family

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  12. I had just gotten my first College Apartment in an old Victorian House. My Dad came wagging in a huge Christmas tree and convinced I didn't eat enough went into my Kitchen threw out all my left-overs (he was also convinced I would get food poisoning) and produced a baked ham potato salad, beans and other stuff he had brought with him and homemade pie. I was decorating the tree with Bing Crosby on for music and right in the very back of the tree I found a note from a boy in Canada... An hour later the rest of the Family showed up with the presents..
    Marilyn ewatvess@yahoo.com

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  13. I can't think of any one special holiday - but I would love to read this book! I haven't read from this series yet, but I love the story about the birds in it. Thank you for the opportunity to win! jeaniedannheim at ymail dot com

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  14. My holiday memory when I was young and Chanukah was very special with latkes, and practical gifts, singing songs and enjoying this precious time with the family. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

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  15. I forgot to put in my e-mail address: ruthmazur46@gmail.com

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  16. I remember the holidays I spent at my grandparents when I was in college. They pampered me and grandma cooked all my favorite foods.
    suefarrell.farrell@gmail.com

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  17. A holiday that I will always cherish and think about was many years ago. My parents, sister and brother whom I never see and are gone and I miss everyday were in pj's and opening our presents, with smiles and happiness. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  18. I have wonderful memories of Christmas when my kids were young.

    Kit3247(at)aol(dot)com

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  19. The best Christmas memories are of my momma cooking wonderful food!
    chatcozy1 at gmail dot com

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  20. My parents shut all of the doors to the living room and they weren't opened until Christmas morning. It was like the unveiling the most wonderful day when I got to go open the doors and see the tree and all the presents.
    txmlhl@yahoo.com
    Merry Christmas

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  21. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  22. My favorite Christmas memory is a trip to NYC to see the Rockefeller Christmas Tree.
    afarage(at)earthlink.net

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  23. My favorite Christmas memory is being woken up Christmas morning by my brother at 3 am to open presents.
    kkat.edwards(at)gmail.com

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  24. My favorite Christmas memory is my first Christmas with my daughter. Although she was only 4 months old, it brought back the magic of Christmas for my husband and I to know that we now have someone to share these traditions with and see Christmas through her eyes. kuzlin at aol.com

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  25. My son telling his sister Christmas morning that he had heard Santa on Grandmother's roof the night before!
    libbydodd at comcast dot net

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  26. Any Christmas with the kids is a great memory

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  27. A much needed story this Christmas Eve ..... dcgirl919@hotmail.com

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  28. No magic really. Just that our first Christmas tree was aluminum and I was about 10. Previously we went to relatives who could afford a tree.

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  29. What a wonderful Christmas memory! I love watching the birds and squirrels in our yard. I have two feeders for them as well as leaving seed in the trees for the squirrels. My main memories from Christmas mornings when I was little was having to wait at the top of the stairs until the lights were on, the tree lit, and my Father had his coffee. Then we were allowed to come down and open presents. Thank you for a chance to win! Merry Christmas! Doodlesink@hotmail.com

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  30. I remember Christmas Eve services at our church, singing Christmas Carols and the candle lighting. I used to love to go.

    kaye.killgore@comcast.net

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  31. I remember how excited my brother and I were Christmas eve. So hard to go to sleep. I miss that. Thanks for the chance angelhwk68@yahoo.com

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  32. My grandmother seemed to have a connection with birds like that. Nice memory.

    I remember all the Christmases when our children were small - all the excitement and the big smiles.
    sallycootie@gmail.com

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  33. I think my most memorable Christmas when the year our youngest daughter joined our family. She was born Nov 28th and became our daughter December 1st. Her first real baby smiles came to life watching the twinkling Christmas lights on the tree. That week she was an alert happy baby soaking in everyone and everything around her. servedogmom@yahoo.com

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  34. A great memory for me is the way my parents would buy a Christmas tree in town and then Dad would hide it out on our property somewhere, like the back 40 acres, in a shed, somewhere. We kids would have to go find it on a Saturday before Christmas. We grew up on the prairie so there were not too many trees and we certainly didn't want to cut any of them down. Dad made it a lot of fun to find out own!

    ElaineE246(at)msn(dot)com

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  35. My nephew's first Christmas. He was not quite a year old, just starting to walk, and delighted by everything.
    dotkel50 at Comcast dot net

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  36. Carrying baby Jesus at midnight mass when I was a kid. I was never up that late and that night was magical. Zeta@iwon.com

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  37. A sleigh ride in the snow one year..pretty magical to have a neighbor show up with a horse and sleigh especially when you are a kid...

    jeosmond@gmail.com

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  38. The only memory I have at Christmas was when my husband proposed to me. It may have seem magical because he hadn't hinted anything about it. And the ring fit which was great too.

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  39. Any Holiday spent with my family and friends is special. My nephew being born on Christmas Day was pretty magical.

    gibsonbk at hiwaay dot net

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  40. All my christmas's have been pretty good. Thereadmaster@me.com

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  41. Love your Christmas memory. One of my favs is my hubby, kids and I all opening new pjs gifts on Christmas Eve so we have new pjs for Christmas morning.

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  42. I liked our surprise trip to Florida one year. Must have been a surprise for mother, too, as we had to buy clothes for warmer temperatures when we got there. Bobbipad at gmail dot com

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  43. For us, someone starts telling a "remember when" and soon the whole family starts sharing. The laughter fills the room quickly

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  44. The year I got a cat for Christmas - my best gift ever.

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