Dad's favorite bird was the chickadee. When we lived in the Southern California mountains-Big Bear Lake, to be exact-chickadees entertained us. My father, at aged 45, was stricken with a debilitating disease called Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome. We almost lost him. I was fifteen, and after his diagnosis, I had to become the "man in the house." When we knew that Daddy would make it for awhile, we encouraged him to sit in the sun and watch the chickadees flit around the pine tree that defined our front yard. The tree was a hundred feet high, clearly one of the tallest trees in the area. One year, Dad built a birdhouse for the chickadees, and every year after, we watched families come and go. They were such fun to watch. Some would walk upside down on the underside of branches, while others would sing their songs and fly around Daddy (who wore a hard helmet to protect himself from the squirrels who threw pinecones down at him). After my father died, I found this wooden chickadee which now holds a special place for me. It is the way I invite my father to celebrate the holidays with me.
Merry Chirstmas, Daddy. I love you.