Christmas is such a strange time of year…

Christmas Tree…and I used to hate it. Still don’t love it. But so many good things happen at Christmas not the least of which was the birth of my beloved daughter. Well, she was 2 days late but I did go into labor on Christmas day [a few years ago]. Fast forward to Christmas 2012: I published Branches! which was the realization of a life-long dream. And we’re at Christmas 2013 and Lake Effect is on the horizon. So Christmas is actually pretty cool but just the same, I’m going to share with you one of my bittersweet poems from a time when I wasn’t so sure.

GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PAST

There was a time when Christmas made a difference,
distinguished as  it was from all the other days
by things so difficult to express:

Togetherness, but more than just warm bodies
occupying space;  pervasive warmth that filled the
room and all the hollow places.

The smells I took pleasure in just that time of year–
yeast rolls,  caramels, bayberry and balmy evergreen.

And laughter, so much laughter!
Oh, how I treasured Christmas days.

The one that I remember most I’m sure did not exist.
Outside,  Currier and Ives had brushed the canvas
with fresh fallen snow. Inside, Norman Rockwell
had sketched the scene.

The family was together to trim the tree.

(But one of us had always other trees to trim.)

We ate dinner first, all sat around a table piled high
with Christmas treats  and we said a prayer.
And then we joked and teased and laughed and
were filled with a special Christmas cheer.

(But one of us was sad.)

The tree, selected after all the lots were closed,
stood naked in the hall. Nearby, in worn and tattered
boxes, homemade decorations each waited to
assume a leading role.  And when the tree was
finally clothed and standing  regally beneath her starry crown,
the house lights were dimmed and
Silent Night played softly on the radio.
Someone plugged in the tree and
brilliance kaleidoscoped the room.

(But one of us was scared.)

Then a sleepless night as excitement piled high
in anticipation of all the gifts beneath the tree.
And when the house was breathing in a softly quiet snore,
I tiptoed down the stairs and spoiled all my surprises as
I viewed what was in  store for Christmas morning.

Oh yes, Christmas morning frenzy, the picture in
my mind is ever clear.  Colored paper filled the room
and mixed with gifts and ribbon littering the floor.
And everyone wore faces showing love and appreciation.
The family was together once again.

(But one of us was dead.)

I don’t like it anymore, but there was a time
when Christmas made a difference.

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