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Palm Coast Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016 3 years ago

The sad, digitally garbled tale of the 'possessed' Christmas cardinal

'That thing is possessed,' my wife said. 'I covered it up, and it still chirps.'
by: Brian McMillan Executive Editor

It's that time of year when you start thinking of new traditions, rather than going through the trouble of removing all the decorations.

“What if we just leave the tree up?” I suggested.

“You mean until next December?” my wife, Hailey, asked.

“Sure. We could celebrate Christmas all year.”


“Eventually, it’ll just start to blend in,” I said. “We won’t even remember it’s there.”

The only person in our family who seemed to be on board with my idea was a little plastic bird. It was a bright red cardinal, about three inches tall, and it chirps whenever you walk past it. Somehow, Santa’s elves had managed to create this wonderful, motion-activated gadget in their workshop, and it ended up in my stocking on Christmas.

“Will you shut that thing up?” Hailey said a few seconds after I opened it.

“It’s beautiful,” I said. “Besides, Santa brought it for me.”

The bird came on a metal clip, and I attached it to a shelf near the Christmas tree, so that whenever anyone opened the front door, the bird would chirp.

Then it happened. On Saturday, I took the kids to the park, and, when I returned, the tree was gone. Hailey had taken it all down herself, rather than have another discussion like the one above. I also noticed that my bird had a towel over its head.

“That thing is possessed,” Hailey said, putting the vacuum into the closet. “I covered it up, and it still chirps.”

Maybe it’s trying to tell you something about keeping the Christmas spirit all year, I wanted to say. Maybe it’s wiser than all of us.

Over the next few days, you could tell the bird’s spirit had been broken now that there was no Christmas tree to keep it company. I removed the towel, and it still didn’t chirp right away. You had to wave it around to activate the sensor, and even then it was garbled. The cheerful chirp devolved into a digital burp. And then finally, it fell silent, the like the little bell at the end of “Polar Express.”

Now, Dear Reader, don’t fall into the trap of trying to place blame in this sad tale. Because it wasn’t really my wife’s fault that the bird lost its mojo. I would estimate that it only had about 50 cents worth of battery life in its breast to begin with, so it was mortal like the rest of us. But every time I look at this quiet little friend — I still have it clipped to the air-conditioning vent in my car — I will always think about that one day when I thought Christmas could have lasted forever.

Of course, there is a silver lining on this gloomy cloud. In the end, I did get what I really wanted more than anything: I didn’t have to take down the tree.

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