THE GRAPE TREE CHRISTMAS TRADITION: THE POETRY OF THE DEUCE (IN MEMORIAM EDITION)

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Since I began this blog some 4 1/2 years ago, I started sharing with you all a poem I wrote for Christmas, entitled “Woke Up Christmas Morning”, back in 2001, which appears in my poetry collection, ALL THE GHOSTS IN MY HOUSE THINK I’M STRANGE (available at Amazon.com BTW).  This year, the poem takes on a different meaning for me personally, as one of my “babies” – Kosmo – mentioned in the poem passed away.  Macrocosmically, it also takes on a different tone in light of all the tragic events that have occurred throughout this country and the world.  My hope, albeit a lofty hope, is that this more off-kilter perspective of the holidays invites people to get to the true meaning of the holidays.  Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, the Winter Solstice, or Ashura (which came early this year), the true meaning, at least for me, has been and always will be love and family (forgive me, Capitalism gods).  We here at UTGT wish all of you Happy Holidays, and have a blessed life.

And now, the post…

WOKE UP CHRISTMAS MORNING

Tossing and turning in my bed,
I could hear my wife grumbling dreamily:
“What’s wrong with you?”
“I can’t sleep,” I tell her,
My hand gently rubbing her back
With clumsy reassurances.
Rising from bed,
The clock stares back at me
With its bright red eyes, shouting
“It’s 2:45 in the blessed A.M.!”
Christmas morning.
Hmm…

I stumble through the bedroom door,
Creeping slightly, quietly down the stairs
Trying hard not to step on any of the seven cats
Scurrying around in the dark,
Those seven critters that call us pets while our backs are turned,
Ransacking our refrigerator
And running up our phone bill
While my wife and I are both at work.

Making my way downstairs,
And into the kitchen,
I look back at our Christmas tree
Standing silent and unlit.
Out through the windows I stare,
Gazing blindly at the patio,
The tree line behind it,
And the night sky above.

Like tiny crystals glistening in the streetlights,
I spy the first snow of winter.
It falls to the ground,
Deep and almost glowing,
As if ghostly angels
Rained phosphorous upon the Earth
While we all lay asleep in our beds.

I mull over everything,
Like one gigantic epiphany,
Remembering the past with a skewed awe.
“Isn’t it funny how everything I’ve done
And everyone I’ve known,
Has brought me to here, to this moment?”

All the people that have come and gone in my life,
Either by Death, Distance or Time,
All the wondrous places I’ve been,
And all the sorrow I have felt
Has delivered me somewhere I never thought I’d be.

As the snow comes down,
I wonder how my family is doing,
Living their lives close by and far away,
The ones I haven’t spoken to in years,
And the ones I spoke with only yesterday.
I pray they all are well,
And that they all are happy -
For the holidays,
And for always.

I smile as my mind finds my wife,
Who is sleeping sweetly above me,
Unaware of my nocturnal pondering.
Each day she reminds me of what life can be like,
When bad things lose their meaning,
And pain and suffering can be forgotten.
And suddenly it hits me -
Christmas is not about gifts,
It’s not about money or parties,
Tacky Hallmark decorations or chaos in the shopping malls.
It’s about love and family.

(If ever there was a corny moment, it’s now.)

I am thankful for my family.
And I am thankful to have known love.
I whisper prayers within the darkness:
A prayer for forgiveness
For those I may have wronged.
A prayer of remembrance
For the ones I have lost along the way.
A prayer of thankfulness
For those who still stand beside me each day
And a prayer of hope
To those still begrudged and distant.

I breathed and sighed,
And reached down for Kosmo,
My most comical of cats,
And the world of worry slipped away.
I made my way back upstairs,
Stumbling back to bed,
To dream of sugarplums,
Smiles,
And my family.
“Merry Christmas to all,” I quipped to no one,
“And to all a good night.”
I muttered a few more prayers
And climbed into bed.
Looking over at my wife,
I took her sleepy hand,
And closed my eyes in a peaceful surrender
Listening to her breathing,
Dreams took over…

 

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