Christmas, Old Style

This poem just hatched out of nowhere. It is not specifically about me or anyone else.

(Update Christmas morning: Well it actually didn’t hatch out of nowhere; it hatched out of grief I was feeling last night.

(This morning, Facebook served me up a sweet Christmas memory from 2008: “is digging a perfect Christmas with my loved ones; testing my lil bro’s theory that absinthe will re-activate my urge to blog 😉 ” Our parents were still alive; this was the second-to-last Christmas we were all together.

(This Christmas I really feel I did the responsible thing by not traveling. But, I really miss my brother, sister, brother-in-law & nieces, and wish I could have been there with them today and yesterday.

(Everyone says this, such a cliché but it’s true. Cherish your loved ones, tell them you love them; enjoy whatever times you can share.

(Also, sometimes memories may be all you have, but memories can be so rich. Also, grief can be channeled to offer so much comfort to others. AND last but not least: Technology used wisely is a great thing! We can and should use technology to stay connected, and even strengthen our relationships, even when circumstances make it difficult or unwise to meet in person. Yay for picture-texts, Zoom and all that, including the good ol’ voice-phone!)

This poem is a message in a bottle, floating across the sea of the internet to any of you who are spending these times alone (and don’t want to be), or maybe you’re not alone but still you’re dealing with loss or separation of some kind. Maybe because you lost someone over the past year. Maybe a favorite person or animal crossed over; maybe a friendship ended; maybe there was a misunderstanding that led to permanent disconnection. A lot of you have lost someone very dear this past year or two, and this is to share in your sorrow and let you know you are not alone.

Christmas, Old Style

Back in those days there was no internet
no Facebook
no Zoom
There wasn’t even any phone picture texting

So I told myself tonight, as I sat by the river (eating a convenience-store hotdog and hatching plans to open a bottle of discount eggnog later at the house):

Hey!! I have an idea!
Let’s pretend you’re not really gone!

Let’s pretend we’re just doing
Christmas old style —

And that, therefore, some days or weeks after tonight, I’ll get a cheery letter in the mail
or a scribbled postcard: “Had a good Christmas but missed you, all is well!”
and maybe even a photo or two. (Photos were expensive, and printed,
and a big deal
and not so commonplace
back then)

And just from seeing the envelope, I’ll be able to smell the resiny tree
and feel the warmth of the fireplace
and see the candle-lit faces of everyone
and hear the tiny golden notes
of that old candle-chime spinning
of so many Christmases past
that I took for granted.

“Let’s pretend we’re just doing
Christmas old style!” I said out loud.

And I sent that thought to you just now
across the country
across time
across wars
across the seas
across a pronouncement from a white coat or a blue uniform
across the veil

as I walked home alone.

(Then I look up in the sky
and in the stars I swear I see

a picture-text from you.)