The Christmas parrot
BY DEAN SIMPSON
It’s 7am, and a familiar squawk is heard from the back door. It’s Sebastian. He wants breakfast.
Sebastian is a wild red and green king parrot. Over the past three years, he has become a persistent yet entertaining member of our family.
It all started on Christmas Day 2021, when my teenage son, Jayden, noticed a young king parrot sitting on the fence while we ate Christmas lunch on our back deck.
Jayden breeds birds – mainly budgies, finches and quails – and has several aviaries in our backyard, so it was no surprise that he noticed the parrot.
The next day, Boxing Day, the parrot was there again. And the next. A ritual began, with the parrot arriving each morning, sitting on the fence and watching Jayden tend to his aviaries. Jayden, an extremely patient lad, was determined to befriend this inquisitive parrot and started calling him Sebastian.
I was sceptical at first because Sebastian, although curious, was very timid and flew off if anyone walked towards him. But my son persisted. He would gently talk to Sebastian and began offering him sunflower seeds out of the palm of his hand. It was common to see Jayden standing near the fence for up to 30 minutes with his arms outstretched.
Over time, Sebastian got braver and would inch closer until, one day, it happened. Sebastian bravely shuffled close enough to strain his neck and grab a few seeds from Jayden before flying off.
It was around Christmas time two years ago that Sebastian started flying straight down to Jayden, sitting on his hand and devouring the seeds. Jayden’s patience over those first 12 months had been rewarded.
Fast forward to this Christmas season, and Sebastian now trusts every member of our family. We look forward to his morning visits at the back door when he announces himself with a hearty “Raaawk!” or a shrill whistle. And sometimes, at other times of the day, he’ll ‘drop by’ for a chat – even sitting on my laptop while I work on the back deck.
Until recently, I thought Sebastian was getting the best deal with his daily handful of sunflower seeds. But it dawned on me that Sebastian has also impacted our family in a positive way.
In the hurly-burly of daily life and its busyness, especially at this time of year with all the distractions and challenges of the festive season, Sebastian, one of God’s beautiful creations, has taught us a lesson in slowing down and enjoying the simple things in life as we spend time with him, feed him seed and enjoy his quirky mannerisms.
In the Bible, the Psalmist says, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him” (Psalm 37:7). Our God is a patient God and wants to produce patience in us to slow us down and show us how to trust in him.
It’s amazing how a little bird has epitomised that Bible verse. Patience and stillness were required to form a trusting bond with Sebastian, and the rewards came. We call him the ‘Christmas gift’ that keeps on giving. When he turns up, we are forced to stop what we’re doing and spend some time with him before he flies off again.
This Christmas season, let me encourage you to take time to be still, breathe and dwell on the simple things in life. And in these moments, may there be time to dwell on God’s ‘Christmas gift’ to humanity – Jesus.