Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Bird Feeder

The Bird Feeder
The Story of a Child's Christmas
by Sarah Jinright

December 8, 2012
Scripture Reading: II Cor 9:6-15

Three children stood to their knees in snow as they watched their mother pull a rickety blue hatchback out of an icy driveway.  They were so bundled in winter clothing that all one could see of them was their eyes, and for a while, they did not move. Behind them, a winter-worn, white farmhouse with green shutters shivered in the December wind, and at intervals some of the drifts from last night’s heavy snowfall shimmied from the roof, the wall, and the windows.  It fell with a clamor on the evergreen shrubs that grew around the house, and the noise eventually shook the children's attention from their mother’s car, now disappearing around low curve in the road. 
The youngest boy squealed as his brother pummeled him with a sudden snowball, and a short battle ensued.   Their sister stopped them when there were two mittens missing, and possibly a hat.  She sat them on the porch for redressing. 
“I’m cold,” said the instigator of the snowball fight. 
“No wonder,” said his sister.  She smacked his mitten against the porch step to loosen the packed snow and then slid it back onto his hand.  “You shouldn’t have taken your mittens off to make snowballs.”
“I’m cold too,” said the youngest boy, who was not quite five—and frequently only a half step behind his brother.
“Goosy,” said his sister, “How can you be cold?  Momma bundled you up so—you can hardly walk!  Besides, it was you who begged to stay home from the grocery store and play outside in this mess.”  She pulled his stocking cap on, tied it under his chin, and smiled. “Now play.”
Strange always—how the very short influence the very tall with such precision—as had been the case that morning when the curly headed blonde in footy pajamas pleaded, “Please Momma!  Play in the snow!  Please!”  Nothing could have been so calculating.
At first, the older children had been opposed—not because the snow yielded any less temptation to them—but because they had yet to buy their mother a gift, and Christmas was less than a week away.  However, upon shaking their piggy banks, they were convinced of the futility of a shopping trip.
“I heard Momma say she wants a bird feeder,” said the girl.  She looked mournfully at the sparse coins on the floor.
“Couldn’t buy bird seed for that,” said her brother.
So they had joined the little blonde conspirator in his pleas to stay home and play in the snow, and since their father worked in an office right next to the house, permission was granted, provided they stayed back from the road and didn’t try to sled down the porch steps.
“Do you think—when Momma gets home—we can slide down the porch steps?” said the little one who had been so eager to stay.
“Are you bored already?” said his sister, “Build a snow man.”
“Make a snow angel,” said his brother.  He threw himself into the snow. “Ouch!”  He sat up and grabbed his elbow.  “There’s something in the snow!  Help me dig!”
All three children quickly set to work excavating the unseen object from the snow bank.
“It’s blue!” said the shortest.  “Maybe it’s some sky.”
“Goosy,” said the tallest, “Sky doesn’t fall.”
“Aw shucks,” said one who had found it to begin with, “It’s nothing but an old plastic crate.”
“Look!  Look!” squealed the youngest.  Already forgetful of the blue crate, he stumbled toward a new distraction on short, swaddled legs. 
“What is it?” said his sister.
“A bird.  Eating lunch,” said the small boy.  “We should tell Momma not to feel bad about the bird feeder. See? The bird’s eating right out of the snow.”
“So what if we moved the snow?” Said a voice from behind them.  Their brother stood holding the blue crate.
The girl’s eye’s lit up.  “Move the snow to where momma can see it—and the birds!”
Later on, nobody could really remember who’s idea it had been, but all three children were consumed with filling the blue crate with snow and hauling it to the picnic table that stood in front of Momma’s kitchen window.  There they emptied crate after crate of cubed snow until a block pyramid rose four feet off the table.  With that accomplished, they took sticks and carved windows and ledges into their creation.
“Now get bird food!” said the middle brother, who had lost both his mittens again.
They sprinkled bird food in all the crevices and then scurried inside to watch from chairs that they pulled up in front of the window.  Before long, a chickadee—a cardinal—a blue bird—all discovered the snowy bird feeder, had a seed to eat, and flew off to spread the good word.
Behind the kitchen window, three pink cheeked children still in their snow pants, watched thrilled and amazed.
“Merry Christmas, Momma!” whispered the youngest boy.
And it was a Merry Christmas.  Their mother cherished the gift all winter long, for the birds came to her feeder until it melted in mid-May.  It was a gift without price, but one she did not fail to point out to everyone who stood at her kitchen window.
In the years to come, the world would change much for these children.  They would grow up and discover that, in a world much motivated by materialism, everything has a price tag.  However, the bird feeder left them with a truth about Christmas they will never forget. 
Christmas is about a gift without price.  Jesus Christ was born penniless, lived selfless, taught fearless, died flawless, rose victorious, to offer us His salvation—PRICELESS.  He is God’s priceless gift to the world, and all who seek him find salvation, nourishment, and refuge.  His Gift will stand—unmelting and unchanging—through this life’s long winter sojourning.  In a season full of expensive but empty attractions, point out Jesus Christ’s simple and priceless gift to everyone you meet.


  1. Dear Aunt Sarah,
    I loved the story you wrote.
    I think the snow bird feeder is a really neat idea.

    1. Dear Elise,
      Thank you so much for the nice note! I'm glad you liked the story. It is a true story about me and my brothers, Nicholas and Patrick when we were children. We really made the bird feeder from snow for my mom--you know her as Grandma Shanks! I hope it snows in SC sometime this winter so that you can try to make a bird feeder. I'll see you next week when we visit.
      Aunt Sarah