Chloe’s eyes popped open at a thump at the fireplace.
“What’s that?” she wondered, listening to soft rustling mixing with Zack’s buzzing snores from the cage next to her. She stretched and climbed to the bottom of her cage to peek out of a space where her cage cover hung just over the bottom of her cage. That wasn’t mommy or daddy! Her eyes widened as she stared at the tall, fat man dressed in red.
“Hey!” she said.
He turned from filling her stocking. “Well hello, pretty lady!”
“Are you Santa?” she asked.
He bent down, a twinkle sparking with the reflected light from the night light nearby. “Yes ma’am, I am. You’ve been a good girl this year, and Zack has been a good boy.” He motioned to the box full of toys on the floor next to the fireplace. “And you’ve been rewarded.”
“Wow!” Chloe said. “Can you pull up Zack’s cover and wake him? He’d love to meet you!”
Santa laughed. “I know he would, but that’s against the rules.” He paused, listening to Zack’s buzzes. “In fact, he’s having a nice dream of being on the Anipal Express to the North Pole. You should be too, little lady.”
Chloe gasped. “Oh no! Am I on the naughty list now?”
“Ho ho ho, no!” he said, opening her cage door. She stepped on a white gloved finger and he lifted her to her sleep perch. “I’m sorry I woke you. Go back to sleep, Pumpkin, and tomorrow you will wake from happy dreams to find rich treats waiting.”
“Mommy calls me Pumpkin,” Chloe said, yawning and tucking her head into her back, where her snore-buzzes joined with Zack’s for the rest of the night.
“Oh boy, Santa came!” Mommy said as she and daddy pulled the covers back from their cages. Zack and Chloe fluffed and stretched as they stared at the full stockings and box full of bird toys on the floor.
“I meant to stay awake!” Zack said. “I can’t believe I fell asleep again!”
“I think staying awake is against the rules,” Chloe said as their parronts opened their cages so they could dive in their gifts. There were treats, chew toys, and even a remote controlled car for them to play with.
“Oh boy!” daddy said. “Do you guys want to go for a ride?”
“I want to drive!” Zack said, pulling a driver’s license from the Department of Motor Vehicles from a Cracker Jack box.
“What?” mommy said, grabbing the license. Zack wrestled with her, but she pulled it free. Sure enough, it was issued to Zack. “Good grief, no wonder there have been so many accidents lately! They really do put them in Cracker Jack boxes for anybody to have!”
“That’s not all,” Chloe said, pulling a green card out of another box. “Here’s a permanent U.S. residency card for Jorge that runs the taco stand on the corner. Do you want to take it to him?”
“Absolutely not!” Mommy said, taking the green card. “Santa didn’t do that. It was the stupid government!”
Daddy shook his head. “I’m not surprised, but at least Santa hooked us up good this year!”
“He sure did,” Mommy said, helping Zack and Chloe in the car. “Come on, guys, enjoy a ride. You deserve it for being such good birds this year!”
“I just wish I could meet him one day,” Zack said, as daddy zoomed them across the floor. “I always dream of meeting him on the Anipal Express to the North Pole on Christmas Eve, but it would be nice to see him put out the toys here.”
Chloe’s cheek feathers rose in a smile as she remembered the night before. “Who knows, Zack? Maybe someday you will!”