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I like both my houses at Christmas. Over at Dad and Richard’s, Beatrice Strawberry Bird went missing and scared us all for a while. We always worry she’ll actually get out of the house. That wouldn’t be good, especially right now since it’s winter. But we found her when we heard opera coming at us from the top of the Christmas tree!  Maybe she thinks she’s an ornament?

"...and a cockatiel in a not-pear tree!"Since Mom and Dad are divorced, I kind of get two Christmases. This can be good and bad. The good thing is, Dad and Richard celebrate everything on Christmas Eve, since Richard is German and that’s what they do. This year, I gave them a stack of promises on little cards. They say things like “Good for one dishwashing” and stuff like that. I hope I don’t regret it! Dad and Richard both loved them.

They gave me books and camping stuff and that’s fine with me. I especially like the camping stuff, since only Dad and I go. They bring me home on Christmas morning, early, and I’m really tired. That’s the bad thing. But then Mom and I celebrate Christmas for a lot more days. “They don’t call it the Twelve Days of Christmas for nothing,” says Mom.

The best thing is, Dad and Richard are in Germany for the rest of my vacation and so we have Bird. I’m singing a song called A Cockatiel in a Pear Tree …  except it’s our Christmas Tree! It’s full of totally random stuff, unlike Dad and Richard’s which is beautiful in a totally different way. Beatrice Strawberry Bird looks hilarious up there and she also doesn’t want to come down.

Families are so different. When we were talking about them in school, Colby said, “It’s easier to say who I’m NOT related to in Wolfgang” because his family is big and they’ve lived here forever. Mrs. O., on the other hand, has only one cousin left, and he’s in Australia! Tofu and I are like her family now. No wonder she bakes us so many cookies. My own family is a bit messy. Dad and Richard live in Ottenbury with my darling Beatrice and sometimes me. Mom and I live here in Wolfgang with Tofu. My birth mom lives in China with maybe another family. Not everything has to be neat and tidy all the time. Messy can be good.

Divorce isn’t always fun. For example, when I leave my book at the wrong house (and it’s at the exciting part!!), and I just can’t walk over. Someday, I’ll have a driver’s license. For now, I just have to start another book.

I love my dad, except that he lives with Richard, and I’m just not so sure about Richard.  It doesn’t seem fair that he gets to see Dad every day and I don’t , and I’ve known Dad all my life.

My mother says she  doesn’t care. Divorce is fine with her. Mom insists she’s so busy painting these days that she can hardly think of anything  else (except me, of course).  And she is busy— very busy. She even forgets when to cook.  It’s a good thing I can put together a balanced meal by myself.

Once upon a time, my dad lived at the corner of Blueberry and Buckle, too. His name is Andrew.  He isn’t fancy either, but at least he lived  here.  Now he lives in Ottenbury with his friend Richard. He left when I was seven, but some-times it  doesn’t feel that long ago. I see him all the time— almost every weekend. But I miss him more than that.

My name is India McAllister and these are my true, random, sort of secret thoughts.

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