Friday, December 4, 2015

The stories of Christmas

My Christmas shopping has had a successful start, including poinsettias for the top of the piano. Christmas cookies are starting to fill cooling racks and plates. They're getting baked faster than I can eat them. A few days ago I promised to share a picture of this year's tree. I do my best to keep my promises. There's a new, non-blinking angel this year. I'm deprived of the challenge of releasing the shutter while the lights are "on." Others are relieved of their annoyance.

decorated Christmas tree 2015
decorated Christmas tree 2015

Over the years, we've developed a Christmas tradition of sharing a Christmas story in addition to the Christmas story. One that I was pleased to discover several years ago is Christmas in Minnesota. It was added to our copies of:


  • Christmas Poems, (an anthology)
  • The Snowman,
  • Christmas at Eagle Pond,
  • The Woodcutter's Christmas,
  • A Dog Named Christmas,
  • The Glass Angels,
  • The Christmas Box, and, of course,
  • The Night Before Christmas.
I'm pretty sure the list should include Carol Bly and Bill Holm volumes that I'll have to go searching for. Maybe the Christmas star can help me.

Much of my joy at Christmas comes from looking at older ornaments and books, remembering the stories and Christmases that go with them. It's magic flavoring new memories with just the right amount of the seasoning of old. I've found the season is best celebrated by tempering expectation with recollection, who's with what's and where's and when's. It's a celebration of life and love,  the ebb and flow of living, and "counting our blessings."

Skating in Harlem, Christmas Day

To Mary Jo Salter 

Beyond the ice-bound stones and bucking trees, 
past bewildered Mary, the Meer in snow, 
two skating rinks and two black crooked paths

are a battered pair of reading glasses 
scratched by the skater’s multiplying math. 
Beset, I play this game of tic-tac-toe.

Divide, subtract. Who can tell if love surpasses? 
Two naughts we’ve learned make one astonished 0— 
a hectic night of goats and compasses.

Folly tells the truth by what it’s not— 
one X equals a fall I’d not forgo. 
Are ice and fire the integers we’ve got?

Skating backwards tells another story— 
the risky star above the freezing town, 
a way to walk on water and not drown.


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