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Halcyon Days

Author Shelley Fraser Mickle
Air Date 12/15/1999

Halcyon Days Transcript

There’s always a time in the middle of the holidays when I just want to cry uncle. “Oh, let’s do away with all this hubbub,” I think. “I can’t take it anymore!” Usually that’s the day on which I have forty-two presents to wrap, the dog has left paw prints all across the silver paper I have spread on the floor to cut into wrapping size, the cat has run off with the ribbon, and the UPS man is knocking on my door to deliver something I didn’t order.

I think, too, that if I hear the words “out of stock”, “out of size” one more time, I am going to flip my wig. Of course, I don’t wear a wig, but it doesn’t matter, because by then there’s a good chance I’ll have torn my hair out. Oh, how did the holidays get like this, I wonder?

Usually when I become this rattled, I sit down with a cup of herbal tea. But lately, I’ve given up on herbs. And I really do prefer iced tea. This year, I am going to try something different. I am looking for a magic bird.

You see, there’s a legend about a halcyon, which is a bird who supposedly had the power to sit down on rough seas, so that right away the wind would become calm and the waves would smooth out. And that’s what I need, I have decided. In fact, I think everybody needs one of these birds, if I can just find one.

It is believed that for seven days before and after the winter solstice on December the 22nd, when the sun doesn’t move, the halcyon nests on the turbulent oceans and creates a blissful calm, known as the halcyon days. Oh blissful calm, oh blissful bird, how can I find you, I wonder?

The dictionary says the halcyon is actually a type of kingfisher. And when I looked up kingfisher, it says that it is any of various birds related to some long-named family I couldn’t pronounce who characteristically has a crested head.

Well, last night when I looked up kingfisher I couldn’t sleep until I found a picture of one. It took me a while but finally one popped up on the internet, and I have to admit he is impressive. A spike hairdo, a white ring around his neck, and with a beak as long as a hat pin, he looks like anything you could find in a pet store. He’s not there though, because all day I’ve been looking.

I guess it comes down to the fact that I can now either go home, spread out some birdseed and hope for the best, or go home and print out on my computer a copy of the bird who can bring calm, and set his picture up on my roof.

If it works, I’ll let you know. But meanwhile, I’m going to fold up the picture of this bird and mail him to all my friends inside of a holiday card. Maybe that’ll be worth at least one halcyon day.

Posted in Holidays, Stories