The first Christmas I spent in my home I was a wee overly excited to have my own entry doors to decorate. This seasonal eagerness may have totally precipitated a gotta handle it yourself Single Girl Situation. You see, in Life Before Mortgage I lived in a second floor apartment with multiple doors to pass through before even glimpsing my front door. It may have been quicker to find the entrance to Narnia. There was hardly anyone to view the merry baubles I might hang from the knocker. Ha, just kidding about the knocker. Seriously, who could afford such a fancy thing? It was totally just a nail the previous tenants had left jutting out (at least it wasn’t rusty).
I’ve always been a fan of the more secular aspects of the season such as decorating. Please note dogmatic hardliners; this is not a running commentary on the Pagan vs. Judeo-Christian origins of lumberjacking an Evergreen but merely a comment that I like shiny things. Like tinsel! However, when I lived in my apartment I kept the festive sparkle to a dull minimum. The tree was a 2 foot affair I took out of a box, sat on a side table, and plugged in. I hung my stocking under the windowsill. One year I did get kind of fancy and hung one string of lights (Ohhhh. Ahhhh.) but I never much saw the point in decorating for myself in the almost decade I lived there.
That all changed in Life After Mortgage. This was my home, a place I wanted to fill with tradition and life. And I had real doors! That could be seen from the street and everything! So, right after that first Thanksgiving when I earnestly gave thanks for the low interest rate on my 30 year fixed deal, I took myself to the closest roadside tree stand to peruse the selection. I knew I was going with a fake full size tree from the get go because even though I was feeling the festive I knew I wasn’t cut out for the work of a live tree. I killed an aloe plant. Twice. But why not live wreaths? Why not indeed…….
I picked out two plump pre-decorated ones smelling sweetly of pine and Yuletide wishes for my front and kitchen doors respectively. When I got home I did not pass Go, I did not collect $200, but immediately hung them. Stepped back to admire them from the sidewalk. Hummed ‘Last Christmas’ (because Wham!) whilst I took pictures and spread the joy to social media. Look everyone! Real wreaths on my real doors!
For a few weeks I would return home from work indulging in the scent of fresh pine 6 inches from my face as I unlocked the kitchen door. It really is the smell of sugar plum dreams and I let my nostrils flare wide and inhaled it sharply every chance I had. At the time I was working evenings so my return home was often very late. I also kept the porch light off most of the time thanks to some questionable wiring (Yay Home Owning!) so it was quite a dark doorstep I returned to each night. But I didn’t mind because it was filled with the natural perfume of the holiday season. Then I came home one night and learned why not live wreaths. Why not indeed…….
I opened the door like every night preceding but as I stepped over the threshold a dark shape sped past the periphery of my vision just above my head. In super composed fashion I dropped to a crouch while letting out a surprised guttural “Gaaaahaaa!” followed by a somewhat more coherent “What the Hell?!?!” Cool as a cucumber in all situations. That’s me. Nanoseconds later I heard a beating from the basin of the sink. My adrenals kicked in and I thought they were pressing the “Fight” button as I straightened up tall to size up my sudden invader. Then the thing rocketed up and my body totally shot past the “Flight” option to the “Scream Like a Five Year Old Meeting the Killer Klowns from Outer Space, Drop Back to the Floor, and Perhaps Contemplate the Fetal Position” option. Anatomy and Physiology never taught me there was a third option. I definitely found it that night. Some things textbooks will never teach.
As I crouched there with one arm raised over my head in classic slasher flick defense mode the Tiny Logic Person in my head was jumping up and down trying to be heard over the thundering of my heart. Tiny Logic Person carries a clipboard. Occasionally a whistle. With my eyes clenched shut I was picturing Smaug looming over the bread box. Or at least those dragons Mathew Mcconaughey-Hey-How-You-Doing fought in Reign of Fire. Tiny Logic Person would have none of that. She was checking off boxes on the clipboard that I needed to:
Take Care of the Situation Because There is No One Else Here (besides a now very startled, very excited cat)
I gulped in a breath and peeked one eye open prepared to face a snarling, winged predator. And found this guy:
So. Now there’s a bird in my house. At midnight. With a very indoor cat licking her chops at this sudden opportunity to embrace her primal hunter. I can’t just fling the kitchen door back open and hope it flies out because the spastastic feline will charge out into the suburban wilderness after it. Before I can scoop the cat up to lock her in a closet the bird had shot across the living room and disappeared with the feline in hot pursuit. Now all I can imagine are flying feathers and a bubbling bird bath of blood Omen style. I may watch too many horror movies…..
Not wanting to test the limits of my steam cleaner I tore after them up the stairs to find my avian houseguest flying at the bathroom mirror Kamikaze and the feline preparing to pounce. This time I was quick enough to snatch the cat and toss her through the closest door, slamming it shut on her meowing chatter. Tiny Logic Person was totally stomping her feet now about systematically herding my feathered friend towards an exit much like I do with humanoid houseguests that have overstayed their welcome. This led to a half hour of creeping through my own house trying to sweet talk the thing with “Here Birdie, Birdie” and “I promise not to pluck and fry you! I swear I’m a vegetarian!”
By 1 am every door to the outside world is flung open to the Polar Vortex air and I have every bulb fired on high. Good thing my neighbors aren’t late night people or pretty sure a concerned citizen would have had me hauled in for 48 hour observation in a fashionable white straight jacket. We’ve cleared the upstairs but instead of flying out the front door conveniently located in a straight line at the foot of said stairs like a good little birdie the thing veered right and was now in my home office chirping away under my desk. Not just hiding under my desk. Oh no. Now he’s playing with me. Taunting me. He hops out on one side and cocks his head at me. Chirp. Hops back under when I get too close. Chirp. Oh, you will not break me you foul fowl. I refuse to be broken! Though I did start to reconsider my vegetarianism.
Eventually the little bastard must have tired of the game and flew from the room as I scurried to slam the doors and shut off reentry routes. Perhaps the bird knew it had worn out its welcome. Maybe he instinctually knew the jig was up and I was assessing exactly how long it may take to oven roast a fowl of his size. He flew one last lazy pattern through the dining room and finally out into the night, retreating through the kitchen door from whence he came. Hmmmm. Come to think of it, this seems like a few of my dates……
I spent the next few weeks shaking the wreath every night to roust any nesters, feeling like a beat cop telling some poor hobo to move along, this stoop’s not for you.
I consider it a bloody Christmas miracle that my house wasn’t covered in splattered white bird droppings.
The next year I went ahead and got me some lovely artificial wreaths. They may not smell like sugar plum dreams but they do have glitter. That’s festive! Plus, it’s economical. I box them up in January and dust them off the next November which totally makes it a tradition. If I really miss that pine scent around the holiday season I’ll take a walk in the woods. Or hang an evergreen air freshener in my car right after Thanksgiving. Guaranteed to be free of feathered friend rousting!
3 thoughts on “One Flew Outta the Cuckoo’s Wreath”
I hate to burst your bubble, but this year I had a bird roosting in my FAKE wreath…I have bird shit all over my front door and threshold to prove it. I’ve had a fake evergreen wreath on my door for Xmas for 10 years and this is the first year I’ve ever had a feathered friend take up residence. It scared the absolute crap out of me every time I opened the door, and I was so thankful it never actually got in my house. Your story is a good one on “what might have been” had the bird not flown in the opposite directions of my hysterical screams every night. After about a month the bird finally gave up, but I too am banging on the door and wreath every night just to be sure.
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Oh my! I shall commence a nightly courtesy shake just in case. I do not want an encore performance.
What a lovely and funny story! I love your writing style. It’s very engaging. Keeps the reader interested. And I could almost feel as if it was Christmas! Wonderful descriptions. And I totally understand your frustration at the bird. Where I live, birds and cats get inside houses ALL the time and it’s impossible to coax them out!
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