I love the Christmas season, especially the music. I remember bundling up in warm wool coats, stocking caps, gloves, boots, to carol with friends and church-goers up and down Clearwater, visiting shut-ins and elderly. While some songs have become controversial (“Baby, It’s Cold Outside “), my favorites are varied and plenty. From the traditional songs like “Silent Night,” and “O, Holy Night,” to Bing Crosby crooning “White Christmas,” Cowboy Gene Autry twanging “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer,” and Brenda Lee rocking around her Christmas tree, I love and relate to the Beatles songs such as “So This is Christmas” and “Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time.”
I thought you’d enjoy this poem about Christmas magic. A few years before the Beatles entered the scene, I was in a state of doubt. I was, seemingly, too old for baby dolls yet too young to think I needed a daily bath. I had heard rumors that Christmas wasn’t all it was bragged to be.
The story actually took place and the characters are true. For nearly seven years, our family lived in Lynden Township, Minnesota, by Warner Lake and Plum Creek. I took this little ditty from my memoir, Postcards from the Old Man.
Winters at the Warner Lake held their own charm. Except for the path the landlord’s tractor made for us from the road to our house, snow mounds covered the yard. Probably because I was older, Christmases took on a different dimension here as well.
Navy blue, crystally winter’s night.
Glittering sifted snow, icing topped lake,
evergreens muffed in white. I plodded
as Becky pulled me down the glossy road.
A bundle of blue, she sometimes followed,
sometimes led, sometimes jumped over my feet
as she chattered about baby dolls, Santa’s snack—
star-shaped cookies, his tummy and our chimney.
Late autumn’s whispered secret unmasked the man.
A grown up woman of ten, I played my part
for my younger sister that Christmas Eve,
although I no longer believed.
Carolers sang, “. . .won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?”
I grumbled, “It’s time to go home.”
As I turned, my eye caught a wink of light
dashing across the blue-black sky.
Becky and I tumbled through pockets of snow.
The yard glowed—lit house and trees.
Who was that all hunched over in the shadows?
Mom, traditionally dressed in pink flannel gown,
pulled off our coats and pushed us into the living room.
Becky ran to a diapered doll and teddy bear.
I gazed at a white-veiled Barbie,
Betty Crocker bake set, white fur-topped boots.
On the floor lay the empty green 7UP bottle
and a plate of cookie crumbs.
I ran to the window. Cupped my hands around my eyes.
No reindeer, no sleigh…
But on that navy blue, crystally winter’s night,
I decided to believe for one more year.
Most Christmases hold me under their spell. I can get done what I have to get done. And, I love the sparkle of lights, the glitz of foil wrapping paper, and the cheery and moody music blasting from the radio. But, I don’t always like the reality I am dealt. I may have retired a few years ago, but for the last four years, I’ve been writing and editing books. Before that, I corrected essays up to the moments before semester grades had to be handed in to administration. I was always in a rush to finish baking, shopping, wrapping presents, and sending quick notes to friends.
This year, I must say, I am more relaxed if not less organized. No editing, no writing, even though I am researching for my next book and thinking of a couple poems to write. Cookies to bake? Ah, maybe tomorrow. Wreaths to put up? Maybe, Frank can do the job. Oh, Rudolph! I need you to guide my sleigh tonight and through the rest of the season. I need to get my jobs finished, OR, maybe I’ll just sit and watch Barbara Stanwyck and Dennis Morgan in Christmas in Connecticut
…..just one more time.
This year, the world’s chaos can steal anyone’s joy. Yet, I hope for you and me a nice Christmas, however we find it. Turn off the TV. Sing a few songs, make a toast with our favorite friend or loved one for a peaceful, less stressful new year.
Like I did as a child, I am deciding to believe in the old man’s magic, at least for one more year. Most importantly, for me, personally, I cherish the gift of the babe-in-cradle burrowed in that meager way-station so long ago. It’s the simple truths that matter.