Trimming the Tree

(for Dana)

The season sprang too fast this year
For me to court it through my door,
In past years crass November ads
In fact made me wish for it more,
Now carols came while I made calls
I had no time to deck the halls,
I noted my indifference
As practical, and making sense,
Christmas was commerce, both left
little to adore.

Perhaps the sum of daughters’ years
Muted the silent nights for me,
Our children’s childhood days slipped past
While they became who they would be,
Their youth would strip our own years‘ way
When we‘d plan solstice holiday,
Small faces we’d plot to excite
And find our own lost youths ignite,
Without young eyes, a yuletide star
Is hard to see.

Then in the midst of errands planned
To purchase cheer to feed the show
The sun fled fast, the cold bit hard
And we were both surprised by snow,
There must be some primordial link,
Weather sends hearts to soar or sink
And while sun may more oft inspire
Then clouds to lift our spirits higher
You sang through storm, “Let’s get a tree”,
and eased the blow.

We left our plans in the van’s wake
Steering through clouds now fallen low,
Our mission was an easy sell
To the two teens we took in tow,
We made our stand, a crop of pines
The farmer’s face, framed by laugh-lines,
Our candidate he shook and set
Slowly turned it, in pirouette
And soon home was perfumed by fir
And wood-fire’s glow.

The long procession then began
Of boxes from their annual rest.
Each hand unwrapped and searched for one
Prize remembered as being best;
A dainty doll, a polished horn,
Some sparkled new, some old and worn
And some were made by hands now gone,
Yarn and beads we hung memories on
Of lives that still had power to reach
those that they blessed.

At last, the last tin hook was hung
Each recess framed a star or ball,
The snaking skein of hidden lights
Switched, lit the spectrum round it all,
I stood entranced before the tree,
Transforming it had transformed me;
I saw my mind in tableau there
A branched and shadowed, living lair,
Each light, a Christmas memory,
a gift recalled.

Tonight the sylvan sentinel waits
The morn of gifts that we’ll present,
Souvenirs of envisioned hopes
We kept for those for who they’re meant,
It stands for some as Gospel story
For some, truth dressed in allegory
But whether taken literally
Or as myth, magic in the tree
Lies in a world’s hope for a peace
That’s heaven sent.

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