Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Almost Christmas

[Lukey and Jasmine in the snow. Look at Jasmine's eyes~she is thinking Lukey got
something to eat and she didn't. No fair! My foody girl, who has been on a diet forever.]

In childhood,
it felt like Christmas.
Crunching across
the frozen snow,
you could almost see
the Star of Bethlehem
in the black winter sky.
You could feel the cows
waiting in their stalls.
The manger seemed
very near.
The air was
so cold
it caught
in your nostrils
and froze there,
as you walked
to Church
in the dark
early mornings
before school.
You sang hymns.
You felt the magic
as the days
counted down
even though the reality
defied the expectation.

Now you are grown up,
past sixty,
an age
you never thought
you'd see,
and you put up
a small tree.
You enjoy the lights.
You buy the gifts
but it doesn't
feel the same.
There is no snow,
for one thing.
It is as mild as autumn out,
as if last week's
was a fleeting dream,
and it seems like
a huge buying frenzy
by and for people
who already have
too much,
while you think
of people
dying in the Sudan
and how they would view
this spectacle,
these glittery store aisles
jammed with people
frantically clutching Things,
heaping their baskets
to obscene heights
with plastic junk.
How would they compute
this gigantic imbalance,
TV commercials extolling
dvd players and
laptops for children
while their own lap tops
beg only a bowl of rice
to make them full?

What stays the same:
the pleasure of giving,
not receiving.
The gathering of the clan,
the food, the laughter,
especially the laughter,
and the shy, pleased eyes
of the children,
new puppies to love.

This is your life now,
and so you live it,
peaceful evenings
in the glow of
the tree lights,
peaceful mornings
when the world
feels like
it is waiting
for something
dimly remembered
that has
so long
been lost.
Could it be

There is a new generation,
to make a Christmas for.
For them,
there is magic,
and anticipation.
So you don't tell them
that it is different, now,
for you.
You'd rather be
tending AIDS babies
in Africa,
or feeding street people
in a shelter
for the homeless.
And you decide:
Next year!
that's what you'll do.
All year long
you'll save
warm gloves
and socks
and hats and
woolly scarves.
Next year
you'll walk
the streets
to give your gifts.

Then maybe
will feel
like Christmas
once again.

A long highway runs
between those
long ago
and this one.
It all passed by
so fast,
yet it feels like
a hundred years;
each one
of those
a journey,
not a destination.


  1. I feel the same as you, except I'm in my 40's and still have two kids at home. There is so much suffering, I feel distracted, not happy buying to please, when I think I should give and do more. My daughter has caught the volunteer fever. I admire her giving nature, I hope the wave lasts long. My son needs to see there is more to do... I must somehow get all of them involved, so they can give and receive. When we give, our hearts and souls grow bigger, the goodness grows and reaches outward. It is the true spirit of the holiday~ I don't want anything for Christmas I keep telling them, except my magazine and favorite tea. There is still magic it is just redirected right now. xXx

  2. Thank you Sherry for the images of the simple wonders of Christmas when we are young, the reality of the greed and image building of the consuming Christmas and the stark truth of reality. I am going to have my daughter read this too.

  3. Wow, I have to admit, I never spare a thought for the Sudan. But I have no use for the whole consume-a-thon that Christmas season has become, and now it's even taking over Thanksgiving. I swear, I felt like if I heard one more ad about black friday I was going to lose it.

    As we've discussed, Christmas is never gonna be my favorite. I did naturally love it as a child, though.

  4. The bit about the lap tops really struck a chord with me. Powerful post.

  5. Sherry,
    I can relate to this poem on so many levels. I wish I could do something, anything for the impoverished in the world. I have always wanted to be a Peace Corps worker. It is never too late, is it?
    btw I love the pics of the pups!

  6. Sherry, a thoughtful and important post. We, as a family, give in the name of our family and friends to the Heifer Project, which provides livestock, beehives, and other services (including training, etc) to impoverished families in places like Africa and South America. IT's the only gift we give at Christmas time, besides stocking stuffers for my girl Riley in L.A. She gets how important it is and thanks us every year.

    It's nice to reminisce about boots crunching in the snow, about pleasant childhood memories, but like that like in Corinthians: "When I was a child, I spoke as a child..." Time to step up to the plate, and this poem is an exquisite, non-preachy reminder of that. Thank you, Sherry. Amy

  7. Glad it struck a chord with you all. Amy, I am WAY IMPRESSED with how you resolve this. You literally change day to day lives for those who most need it, with gifts such as these. Wow. I love it. Way to be a human being! Am goingto save my shekels and buy somebody a cow.

  8. A lovely and poignant post, Sherry. Your remembrance of Christmas past takes me back to Ontario, where we cut our own wild tree in the woods and always, always had a white Christmas...it was grand indeed.
    Like you, I am less about the gluttony of shopping and all about the gathering of the clan and the cementing of family bonds.

    In times past, I've packed backpacks with warm gloves and socks, blankets, toothbrushes and such, and handed them out to those in need, but have done little this year to help others, I'm afraid. Still, the new year will be cold and bitter, so I'm going to start today gathering things up. That's the good thing about giving...it doesn't need a holiday to warrant it...it just needs one to take action. Thanks for the reminder of that need...

  9. Welcome to the 60s and finding new ways to live your life!

  10. Just beautiful, Sherry of the Blue Skies and tall sweet trees of Vancouver :) This is how I feel at Christmastime, when it seems so many in England forget the real spirit of giving, and where the giving is needed. Thankyou for your lovely comment on my blog! Oh I must must sleep now...past 3am!! But whenever I am soon due into hospital, I find more respite than ever in this magic world of kindred spirits :)


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