What do you think of when someone mentions Christmas? Presents, Snow, Mistletoe? Something else? Christmas, like every other holiday, is rife with iconic imagery and colors. Some of them are classics passed down in stories, old decorations, songs and in religion while others are more modern and retailer-inspired. Regardless, our closets are full of reproductions and collections of these relics and they grace our homes for nary a month between Thanksgiving and Christmas year after year. Well…kinda. Usually it goes on into January until we decide to finally get the energy to put everything away again.
Going through my Christmas ornaments last year while decorating my tree, I realized that the majority of my tree ornaments are birds. I found this to be rather odd because, quite frankly, I hate birds. And yet, when I decorate my squat little tree, it’s covered in them.
I’m not afraid of birds or anything. Nor do I wish them any ill-will or harm. I just don’t like them. They’re gross. They look like their legs were messily glued on to their bodies like some sort of Mother Nature’s Frankenstein experiment. Nothing about that says Christmas to me.
Now, there are some birds that are okay, like Penguins. Or ducks. I love how ducks waddle when they walk. Or baby birds can be cute when they’re all fluffy in those anti-oil spill commercials if they don’t show their feet. I’m not made of stone. But birds are rarely portrayed as they actually are—multi-species hybrid freaks of nature. There’s nothing fa-la-la about that.
Despite this, birds seem to show up at Christmastime for many reasons. They are often used as symbols of peace and love. A dove is a universal sign for peace and also seems to be a rather important symbol in Christianity, so I guess that makes sense. And Target has wholeheartedly embraced the dove concept in their Christmas decor pieces this year.
Red cardinals show up in wintry scenes in songs, decorations and cards alike. I think they use cardinals because their bright red feathers contrast nicely with a winter scene and not because they have any actual symbolism for Christmas. But perhaps I’m lacking some vital thread of Christmas knowledge.
Penguins come to mind because of Santa Claus and the North Pole; although the reality is, penguins don’t really live at the North Pole.
But really, who thinks of Christmas and simultaneously thinks, Oh yes! Birds! Seriously. No one. Now, if you’re talking Easter, birds make a lot of sense. The little chicks show up all over the place symbolizing birth, youth, springtime etc. But birds at Christmas just doesn’t make a lot of sense. At most, they should be a fringe symbol. Not a main anchor.
Despite this, birds seem to show up everywhere: Christmas cards, cartoons, decorations, songs and my freaky Christmas tree. They even have come to symbolize the glutenous excess of Christmas. 7 of the 12 gifts in “The 12 Days of Christmas” are some kind of bird. Seriously…7…Because nothing screams “I love you” like a bunch of pooping, stinking, squawking, diseased rodents with wings. Right…
Now, I’m not the sort of girl who expects diamonds at Christmas or anything of the sort. But birds are about as romantic as the heralded date-rape scene in “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” Seriously, if some man was courting me and gave me birds as a present, I’d be forced to leave him. No matter how cute he was. Or smart.
Perhaps my hatred of birds comes from being forced to hold trash bags open while they were being plucked by a relative as a small child. Sometimes they weren’t dead and I’d have to watch their necks being broken too. I really can’t say.
All I know is, birds do not make me think of Christmas. But I’m not going to go out of my way to fix it. I’ll just deal with them until Christmas ends and my tree goes back in the closet. I mean, it’s not like they’re alive and making noise or messes. And maybe I’ll make the effort to hit a few post-Christmas sales and get some replacements. Maybe. But probably not. Until then, have a bird-tastic Christmas!