Category Archives: Culture and Literature

How Does Santa Know? A Little Bird Told Him!

birdsYou have heard, I dare say, of the little birds that sometimes whisper good and bad tidings in the ear. Did you never hear your mother say, “Ah, a little bird told me?”

Well, Santa has a great many of these beautiful winged messengers to bring him tidings of good and naughty children, and whenever the flutter of their wings is heard, then the little silver bells tinkle, tinkle, tinkle, so sweetly and softly, like the song of the lily of the valley when the bright rain drops find it hid beneath the green leaves, and kiss it’s pretty modest head.

Santa always laughs outright when the little silver bells begin to tinkle softly, and the little messenger birds put their pink bills to his ear so he can hear the good news they bring. They circle swiftly around his head. Some perch upon all the odd angles of his cap, and some upon his shoulder, and some cling with their tiny talons to the shaggy borders of his fur mantle, while from their throats burst forth the most delicious music, just as in a bright May morning when beautiful rosy clouds wreathe the eastern sky and the stars are yet twinkling in the clear blue depths of the heavens. And, like birds at your window, floating softly, softly floating on the clear air, come the chime of the silver bells.

If the little birds bring good news, they dart swiftly to the shoulder of Santa, chirping in his ear a few sweet notes. Then the little bells rejoice too, and ring out cheerily and merrily, while the fingers of the little elves move faster and faster, because it is such a pleasure to work for good children. And they smile and nod to one another, and caress the pretty little birds that have brought such glad tidings, and as the bells keep merrily chiming…

Want to know what happens next?

bookcoverimageThis short story is an edited excerpt from an historic children’s book called, The Little Messenger Birds, or The Chimes of the Silver Bells, written by Caroline Hyde Butler Laing and published in 1851.

A delightful explanation of how Santa knows when little boys and girls have been naughty or nice, this sweet book is a tribute to a literary treasure, written for lovers of Christmas the world over.

Order your copy of this short story today, and enjoy it with your family this holiday season!



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Native American Bird Lore – The Thunderbird

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Sightings of a gigantic bird, referred to by the Native American peoples as the Thunderbird, have been part of the history of the Southwest for thousands of years. A mystical creature sent by their gods to protect them from evil, the Thunderbird was believed to ride on the wings of a storm.  With fire-burning eyes, a cry like the crack of lightening, and talons large and strong enough to carry a killer whale, the creature’s powerful wings would beat with the sound of rolling thunder.

Ute Indian legend has it that great Thunderbirds dominated the skies and lived atop the Grand Mesa. One day, the Thunderbirds stole some children from the Ute village. The village warriors climbed to the top of the mesa to rescue the children. Upon discovering that the children had all been eaten, the warriors threw the Thunderbird eggs into the valley below. The Thunderbirds later returned and discovered that a great serpent in the river had devoured their beloved eggs. The Thunderbirds descended on the snake, snatched it up in their claws, and flung it high over the mesa.  A violent storm ensued, during which the Thunderbirds tore the serpent to pieces. The Thunderbirds wept for their lost young and even today, when the wind blows from a certain direction, people say they can hear the squall of the Thunderbirds in their grief.

Scientists feel fairly certain that what the ancient Native Americans actually saw was a Giant Condor, which lived over 10,000 years ago. It’s possible that stories of the Giant Condor were passed down from generation to generation and firmly fixed in the legends of the Southwest, as memorialized in Petroglyphs (rock art) created by Native American artists. In some tribes, Thunderbirds are considered extremely sacred forces of nature, while in others they are treated like powerful but otherwise ordinary members of the animal kingdom.

Either way, when you hear the roll of thunder and watch lightning flash through the sky, it’s easy to imagine that somewhere up in the clouds may be the giant bird of legend.

Backyard Birds and the Poets Who Loved Them

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Nothing seems more natural and proper as a subject of poetic meditation than butterflies.   And since I already published that book, birds seemed the next best thing.  As a focal point for various art forms, including water colored paintings, cross-stitched linens, antiqued brooches, and porcelain china settings, birds have been deemed regal and royal throughout the ages.

Celebrated for a variety of reasons, including goodness, joy, wisdom, and intelligence, the bird is often recognized as a symbol of the human soul journeying toward freedom. For many, birds in flight symbolize the light of the spirit, as well as hope, beauty, and transcendence. For me personally, birds are a sweet reminder of how well cared for I am by my heavenly Father, for as the birds of the air are fed and well taken care of by Him, I am much more provided for.

Why are birds so interesting? Birds help keep natural systems in balance as agents of dispersal, biological controls, and bio-indicators. More importantly, birds feed our spirit and move us to appreciate art and poetry. They serve as mediators between heaven and earth, encouraging us onward and upward.  Finally, as Maya Angelou so eloquently reminds me, “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.”

Celebrate National Poetry Month each April by collecting poetry about Birds. Also, make it a practice to participate in Poem in Your Pocket Day; it’s on April 21 this year.

Wait. What?

Yep, National Poem in Your Pocket Day is this month.  On this day, people celebrate by selecting a favorite poem, carrying it with them, and sharing it with others throughout the day at schools, bookstores, libraries, parks, business offices, etc.  Why not tuck one into a child’s pocket?  Or  insert a typed up poem in a greeting card for sending to all your friends to carry in their pockets. Or just pull one out of your own pocket and read it quietly to yourself when you need a break from the daily grind.

Originally initiated in 2002 by the Office of the Mayor, and in partnership with the New York City Departments of Cultural Affairs and Education, Poem in Your Pocket Day encourages individuals across the country to join in and channel their inner poet.

And, if you’re wanting a good poem for this particular activity but struggling to write one of your own, feel free to use the one below. It’s one of my personal favorites!  Download the PFD here and you can print 2 copies per page – one for you and one to share.

Poem In Your Pocket Download

Masquerading Chicadee Poem