My true love gave to me… three French hens…
He stared at her incredulously over his newspaper.
“What kind of man gives a girl chicken for Christmas? It’s turkey you want, or goose. Nobody has chicken for Christmas dinner.”
She sighed and shook her head. “No dad, not chicken for eating. Chickens for keeping.”
He put his paper down and looked at her as if she was mad. “What do you want to keep chickens for?”
She shrugged. “Free eggs perhaps? They say with this breed I could get up to four eggs a week from each one.”
“Still say it’s an odd present,” her father said, picking up his paper again. “Wouldn’t you have preferred a nice bottle of perfume or something?”
She took a breath before answering. She hadn’t worn perfume since she was a teenager, not once she’d realised that it was triggering her migraines, but somehow her dad could never remember that. Every year he gave her a bottle of perfume for Christmas and every year she smiled politely, took it home, and waited for her mum to pass on the receipt so she could get an exchange.
“Well, dad, perfume is nice, but I did ask for these French hens.”
“French? Why did you get French hens, what’s wrong with British hens? Why’ve you got to have hens shipped across from France? Hm?”
She gritted her teeth and wished desperately for her mother to finish making the tea and come out of the kitchen.
“It’s just a breed, dad, the breed is originally from France. These particular hens were raised in Britain. They’re exhibition standard. Like for Crufts, but for chickens instead of dogs.”
She was saved from further explanation by her mother’s arrival.
“Here we go, nice cup of tea,” she said, setting a cup down beside her husband’s chair. “Did she tell you what her Brian got her for Christmas, love?”
She sat down and burst into song.
“On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me, three French hens, two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree!”
“Just the three French hens, mum. I’m not expecting the doves, the partridge or the pear tree.”
Her mother nudged her with her elbow. “What about the gold rings, then? Can we expect some good news soon?”
She sighed and wondered how Brian was doing with building the chicken coop.
© Kari Fay