ON Christmas Day, after opening a load of presents befitting the spoiled little boy I am, my girlfriend handed me one last one saying “this is just a wee daft thing”. 

I ripped it open to discover a build your own birdhouse kit. I was almost overcome with emotion. 

It was a beautiful thing. Made of wood, it looked like it’d require a great deal of patience to put together however, once finished, I was sure I’d feel amazing. 

Like how my ancestors would have felt once they had built a house out of nothing but what they could find around them. 

I was hugely touched by this gesture from my girlfriend as I do enjoy a bit of bird watching. 

We get a lot of crows here and I’ve read that if you feed them regularly, they learn to recognise your face and bring you wee gifts. 

They can even be trained to talk like a parrot, I’ve heard. Magpies are similarly intelligent apparently. 

Maybe building them a house will be the thing that helps me befriend these creatures. 

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I have visions of myself turning into the pigeon woman from Home Alone 2. 

As of now though, I have yet to put the birdhouse together. 

I’m incredibly intimidated by the thing. 

What if I put it together shoddily and the roof caves in, flattening some poor wee sparrow? What if the birds hate it? 

What if I hang it up outside and I’m immediately confronted by a gaggle of seagulls, mocking me with their cruel laughter? 

I built a birdhouse while I was at school, in techy, and it was such a cursed and wretched thing that no birds ever used it. All misshapen and rough edged. 

My maw hung it up out the back and a few weeks later the only thing inside it was a wasp’s nest. 

I felt quite sad that this thing I’d laboured over for months and presented to my maw had become a residence for the most evil creatures on earth. 

The thing I’m also worried about is the fact that we have a cat, called Luna. 

I imagine the cat will be delighted when she finds out that we’ve installed a bird house in the garden. 

The birds will be dining on the finest seeds and fat balls laid out on the floor of the bird house, saying things to each other like “tell ye wit, mate, that guy wi the hair might look daft but he puts oan a good spread”. 

They’ll be chewing with their beaks open, crumbs going everywhere, dining like medieval kings at a feast. 

“Magic, int it?” the other will say. “This is better than when he gees us his auld crusts.”

As they peck away at their scran, the cat will be silently watching. She can’t believe her luck. I’ve essentially created a buffet for her. 

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“My God,” I think, watching from the window. “What have I done?” 

The cat slinks towards the bird house, you can see her shoulders move under her sleek black fur, she’s like a jaguar. 

I could intervene here, maybe bang the window to scare the birds away but then I’d be interfering with nature surely? 

Like how you’d never see David Attenborough getting involved and putting a lion in a headlock to save the life of a gazelle. The circle of life and all that. 
Just imagining this scenario has turned me into a bag of nerves. 

It’s these kinds of presents that can turn me into a blubbering mess. The fact that someone remembers something that made you smile, even if only briefly, and goes out of their way to get you something related to that moment. It’s enough to bring a tear to a glass eye. 

It’s been said many times before that this time of year is a bit of a no-man’s-land. 

From Christmas Day through to New Year’s Day, it’s like an entire week of Sundays. There’s something about it I quite like. 

I always feel a wee bit detached from time in this period, like nothing really matters. 

You can get up and go to bed whenever you want, you’ve nowhere to be anyway. 

It makes me feel quite introspective. 

Everything is stripped away and you’re left with nothing but your own thoughts. You analyse the year gone by and prepare for the one still to come. 

This time last year, I was optimistic about what this year had in store. 

I was wrong of course, it’s been a hellish nightmare year. 

However, I’m happy to stick my neck out once more and say that next year will be better. 

At least the second half of it will be anyway, I think. 

The tunnel might seem a bit longer but the light is still visible at the end.