My twin brother James follows behind. His feet making a soft crunching on the snow. Binoculars are swung on his neck, always ready to spot a creature of some sort. His passion lies not in the potential art but the living art, the things God has created.
I stop for a moment and glance up at the towering trees. Their branches paint bold black lines across the bright blue sky. I take a deep breath.
James stops and walks over to a fallen log. Icicles hang on the branches, shinning crystals, catching the morning light like stars. I follow James to the log and we sit on the well worn surface. As I trace the bark he lifts up his binoculars and peers into them.
“Hey Joy, look over there.” He whispers softly as he hands over the binoculars. I look into them and I spot the tiniest speck of color. The snow makes it defined, but if it were the summer I probably wouldn’t have seen it at all.
“It’s so pretty.” I say as I hand back the binoculars. “What kind is it?” I can tell it is a bird, but that’s all I can make out.
“They,” James corrected, “There’s two turtle doves.”
“How can you tell?” I ask. I look through the binoculars again but all I can see are a confused jumble of grey and brown.
“Well mostly from it’s markings and size. We should get a closer look.”
“Okay.” I agree.
The birds are quite far off in the distance so we trek aways. When we stop by some bushes a yard or two off we can see them clearly. One is sitting on a nest, the other on a branch close to the first.
“Ooh,” I gasp, “What a lovely Christmas present they are going to have.”
James grins. “We should leave so we don’t disturb them, but we could come back later, to check on them.”
“Sure!” I whisper.
James hums a low but cheery tune as we walk away from the tree. “Hey!” He remarks, “We just saw two turtle doves!”
“And the song ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ has two turtle doves in it.”
I laugh. “Oh yeah.” We approach the same log that we had sat on a few moments ago and stop.
“Ever wonder what that means? Two turtle doves?” As James wraps his red scarf around his neck, I think.
“Not really. Do you have any ideas?”
“Well two must mean a pair or something like that.”
“So by pairs you mean like me and you?”
James smiles. “Twins would work, but it’s not likely.”
Me and him laughed and giggled as we think of slightly absurd ideas. Eye’s, hands, feet, bicycle wheels. None of them would ever work.
“I give up!” I cry. My brain hurts but maybe that’s just from the cold.
“Wait, I’m still thinking!” James protests. I shrug and crunch through the snow ahead of him.
“Wait that’s it!” He shouts and then immediately quiets himself. “I know what it is.” He says in a lower tone.
“ You know the Bible?”
“Well it’s separated into two parts. The Old Testament and the New Testament.
“Oh yeah! That could work. How did you ever think of that?” I was slightly shocked since the best we could come up with was bycicle wheels.
“I started thinking about how it probably was something significant. So that made me think about my faith...the most significant thing about me. Which made me start to think about God and the Bible.” James eyes glowed.
“I see!” I said. “The sweet song of the turtle doves is like the sweet message of God’s redemption in the Bible.”
“Wow, I really like that.”
“We should tell Mom.”
We didn’t know all the answers to ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’ song but we knew one. And one makes all the difference.
Following the foggy haze of smoke that trailed up from our chimney, we tramped through the snow towards home.
Christmas arrived with the cheery mood it always brings. Through the woods the icicles seemed to dance. Over the snow covered path, berries burst forth with color.
I heard the signing of the turtle doves, although now it was intermingled with sweet new melodies. The two turtle doves had now become six.