A Christmas Tree, a Book, and… a Bird
From the moment I picked up The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in fourth grade, I became an avid reader. So it will come as no surprise when I confess that one of my most poignant Christmas memories involves a Christmas tree, a book, and… a bird.
I was a junior in high school and, somehow beyond memory, I had become enamored with birds. Cockatoos, to be exact. Yet I knew such a large bird was beyond my means, specifically because they live so long, so I had decided that all I wanted for Christmas was a cockatiel.
My parents were artists, so there wasn’t an abundance of money in the budget. Yet somehow, every year, Santa managed to come through and deliver my heart’s most cherished desire. Always. So I knew beyond any reasonable explanation that I would soon be the proud owner of a brand-new cockatiel. The only question was, where would my parents hide it?
The house I grew up in was pretty straight-forward. One hallway led from the living room, bisecting the building into equal halves where the other rooms line up in a row. The only exception was my parent’s room, which hosted a small, private bathroom that mirrored the main bathroom abutting the afore-mentioned, bisecting hallway. This bathroom was the only place my parents could possibly hide my new cockatiel.
When Christmas Eve arrived, I was so excited that I couldn’t sleep. I stayed awake long after everyone else had gone to bed. I was so excited that I snuck out of my room to the living room, sat on the couch next to the Christmas tree, and read by the multi-colored lights on the tree, longing to hear some faint twitter or tweet drift down the hall from my parent’s room. I stayed awake all night.
Needless to say, Santa did not bring my bird. When first my brother, then my parents, woke up, I reasoned they would keep the bird hidden until every other gift had been opened. As I dressed in my new Christmas clothes and climbed into the car to go to our family’s Christmas dinner, I figured that my bird must be stored at my aunt’s house. After Christmas dinner and a cut-throat game of Tripoli, I wandered circumspectly through each room, but I found no bird.
I was devastated. Santa had never failed me before! Yet I knew that my parents balanced a tight budget. Blacksmithing is not exactly a lucrative profession, no matter how skilled the artists, so I did my best to hide my disappointment, as well as my fatigue and the stomach-ache I always get when I skip a night of sleep. No matter what, I would not make my parents feel bad for being unable to give me a cockatiel.
The afternoon passed and, at last, it was time to leave. Sick to my stomach and only half awake, I bundled myself up in my jacket and trudged numbly to my parent’s car. When my parents informed me that we had to stop by my grandmother’s house, I nodded numbly. When they said I had to go inside with them, it was all I could do to hold back my tears. Would this day never end?
When I entered my grandmother’s living room, I immediately saw my cockatiel. A beautiful, solid white gentleman I named Bastian in honor of The Never-Ending Story. My mother later told me of how she had known I stayed up all night and how hard it had been for her to watch as I trudged through the day, yet how she never spoiled the secret because she knew how much joy it was going to bring me.
Our Father God is like that. He loves to give us good gifts, but in His timing and in His way. And it’s always worth the wait.
“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is god to those who ask Him?”
Sabine is tired of her people living as slaves to the fey Rüddan in everything but name. But the ban on magic use keeps Humanity indebted to the Rüddan, whose superior strength is the only thing that once protected them from being annihilated by the Aethel. At least, that’s what Sabine has always believed. When she learns otherwise, she must overcome centuries of prejudice and lies, forge an alliance between two enemy races, and find the location of a powerful talisman in order to break the chains that bind Humanity to the Rüddan. Along the way she learns a dangerous secret about herself that could get her killed.
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