The Goony Bird is a tradition in the Stevens household. It originated many years ago somewhere in my husband’s childhood. I can see why he loved this curious little ornament, all glittery with translucent fairy-like wings. It is exactly what might catch the attention of a child with an imaginary lure toward mythical lands where birds of this feather happily flocked together along with other whimsical creatures of yore. Stories of where this little Goony came from got lost in translation. I don’t even remember how it came to be in our possession, but no matter, it retains a treasured place of distinction in our Christmas décor. This has been so, for as long as we can remember.
Steve always has the honor of placing the Gooney Bird on the tree. It is the last ornament to go up and he has to put it there in the presence of our family to officially start Christmas. It is a symbol of what has gone before and what will come after. During our boys’ growing up years, this was an easy feat to accomplish. Tree selection was a family affair and we all had to concur on the perfect one. Loving our tree was a major requirement! (no surprise here) We would decorate together and the boys would place their ornaments, and Steve would provide us with the grand finale. With the Goony Bird hanging proudly from the branches of our tree, the Christmas season would officially begin for us.
In the childhood years that we very privileged to parent, we had so many traditions surrounding Christmas that we would look forward to each year. The arrival of the Christmas Elf on December 1st, not the scary one around today, but a magical invisible one that would deliver Christmas books for us to read each night at bedtime. We had to keep up because we knew the Elf would come to retrieve them on Christmas Eve and take them back to the North Pole. Santa letters were duly written and sent up the chimney to slowly float their way to their chilly destination. We had cooking days, covering our kitchen with flour and sugar, to make make sweet treats for others and of course, Santa. The boys made Gingerbread Houses out of leftover Halloween candy, which became an art in itself to save their best to decorate. There was usually a trip to The Nutcracker at the Fox to revel in the age old music that we knew by heart. Last, but not least, there was a family Christmas party where friends of all ages would come to celebrate. These traditions were all designed to foster our togetherness and create memories that would last a life time.
Now the boys are all grown up and they are happily creating their own traditions with their own families. The last remaining vestige of our family traditions is the Goony Bird. It hasn’t made its way to our tree yet, because we are still waiting for our time together. There is a bittersweet longing now attached to this crazy little bird, but he is dutifully still carrying out his mission. He has always been there to remind us of what has gone before and what will come after.