A look at the message delivered at Holiday time.
The Holiday Message : A Play in Three Acts
Act I Scene I
Percival Partridge, getting on in years, rather pernickety and curmudgeonly to say the least, definitely not the venerable head of the clan. Has a lifetime of experience behind him.
Toots, an irreverent turtledove, very proud at having taken part in the on-going holiday celebrations, but still a little confused as to the meaning of the whole exercise.
Nicole, one of three French hens who were part of the third day's ‘gift’, a rather militant feminist and prone to touting the values of sisterhood.
Laurence, a penguin, who has steadfastly made his way from the opposite pole to the seat of the celebrations, determined to make his views heard.
The Setting: A winter landscape, the country and province un-named. Obviously it's somewhere near the North pole because the Christmas spirit originates there in folklore. There is a tree, a lonely scrawny pine, in the foreground. The three first mentioned characters are grouped around it, arguing amongst themselves. They are pecking at some kernels scattered on the snow. There is an unseen but faintly felt presence. Presumably the one that scattered the corn? It will be seen that it is a benign presence that only acts to make the protagonists more comfortable.
Percival: Not quite the homestead I would have expected, having been plucked unceremoniously from the bosom of my family. I would have expected just a little more forethought perhaps. This corn is plain, and hard too, I prefer the “pop”corn variety, softer and tastier. It’s readily available y’know, I had some just the other day.
Toots: Oi! Quit yer grumblin’ Gramps. Yer not starvin’ are yer? Bet a bit o’ that ‘oliday music might put ya in a better mood. I have recently composed a little something meself. (A brief struggle with his conscience prompts him to add.) With the 'elp of my partner, o' course. 'Ere, who’s that playing the pianner?
Faint music tinkles through the clearing, strains of “Silent night” can be recognised.
Nicole:(Pointing with one wingtip at the ground a little further away) Look mon vieux, zere are some of zose puffed kernels right zere! (Shivers) Sapristi. Zis place is vairy cold, I am theenkin’ to go to a warmer place. Maybe Hong Kong or India?
The cold wind ceases to blow. Nicole spies a handy nest like structure nearby and snuggles gratefully into it
Nicole: Yais, certaniment. We three sistaires shall go east for se wintaire.
Percival: Three young gels out on a jaunt? To foreign parts? What is the world coming to?
Toots: Let’s not ‘ear any of that “in my days, young feller-me-lad” stuff, huh?
The world has been moving Gramps. Get with it.
Nicole: (Ruffling her feathers a little) And why not? Anyzing ze boys can do ze girls can do better.
Percival: (Grumbling softly, more to himself.) Gone are the days when a hen would contentedly brood over a clutch of eggs. Who's going to teach the chicks how to peck for grains or snag a worm, eh? I know they'll wangle this old coot as caretaker. Bah!
A large bird appears over the southernmost snowdrift and belly flops down it expertly. As he reaches the foot of the drift and stands upright he presents a comical resemblance to a tuxedo-clad waiter, his waddling gait completes the ludicrous picture.
Toots: Lor’ luv a duck! Who’s that? Or better yet what’s that? Heh-heh-heh.
Percival: Hoo-hoo-hoo-hooo! Oh stop, I have a stitch in my side. Who are you Sirrah? Stand forth and identify yourself.
Toots: Wot ‘e means, is tell us your name, but I’d be tickled pink to know what kinda boid ya are?
Nicole: (giggling) Ze garcon bird.
Laurence : (in a braying crack of a voice) I am Laurence the penguin, and I have come to lodge a complaint with the All-mother. I am most unhappy with the portrayal of the holiday messages.
Toots: ‘Ere, what’s wrong with the messages? I spoke for Peace.
Percival: Yes, it pains me that a message of universal Goodwill can be misinterpreted and disliked.
Nicole: Yais. Mais Oui. Peace and goodwill towards all. Zat is ze messge.
Laurence: I presume the residence is down that slope, where I see an iridescent plume of smoke arising from the chimney? Good-bye friends, I hope you all have a happy holiday.
Toots : Oi! Wait, tell us what is lacking in our message. Maybe we can add to it as we go along.
Laurence: Well, then. First one has to live the message, not merely convey it.
Nicole: And zen?
Laurence: My dear, and then one has to find acceptance in one’s heart, for all our fellow creatures. We do not determine our shape and colour, only our character is in our hands. Judge no one by his or her outward appearance, and accept all for what they are.
Waves a good-bye with one short flipper-like wing before waddling up the northward slope and diving down its lee.
The remaining birds give each other looks of dismay and chagrin. Percival sums up the situation.
Percival: That youngster correctly reminds us that we all have to live up to our calling.