Christmas, remembered

There remains, for me, a magic to Christmas EveChristmas 1959 2
a carryover from youth, augmented with the new
memories being created, added to the repertoire

Thou the idyllic Mel Torme and Norman Rockwell
versions of iconic song and picture were only loving
adornments to the Christmas Eves I remembernat-king-cole-the-christmas-song-merry-christmas-to-you-1956
their annual, wistful reappearances are welcome

The night before Christmas was always a boisterous
holiday evening at my aunt an uncle’s suburban space,
not physically but atmospherically distant from
the more compact city neighborhood I knew

The night before Christmas, all through their house,Christmas 1959
laughter, excitement – my yearly chocolate Chrismouse

Christmas Eve meant food starting with a coffee table
full of Norwegian sardines, pickled herring, goat cheese;
more all-American and cheddar cheese and hard salami
all laid out on shiny plates – one of just Ritz crackers,ritzcrackers
on which I artfully packed all of my pre-meal delicacies

It was all augmented liberally with background Christmas
music from an old console stereo…one 33-and-third black
vinyl album at a time, dropping to the turntable until the
stack was spent, needed flipping to assorted side twos

The night before Christmas dinner meant boiled codfishtorsk2
befitting my mother’s family’s Norwegian heritage
and served with boiled potatoes and flatbread, all
slathered by ample pitchers of melted butter

Christmas Eve always ended with me awakening as IChristmas 1961
was being carried to bed, having fallen soundly asleep
somewhere between the family revelry and home

Christmas morning found me awaking before my
parents, before Gramps had arrived for the day;
alone but never lonely, I would be alone to sit andRockwell2
ponder our modestly decorated tree, packages strewn
beneath it like so many colorfully dropped pinecones

Never did I see mommy kissing Santa Claus

Growing up on the top floor of a tidy duplex, I had no
stairs to creep down except to go outside
there was no railing spindles between which to peekChristmas 1968
though mom and dad made occasional use of the
plastic, hung-on-the-living-room-arch mistletoe

Never did we rock around our tree, an always live,
dad-preferred (its-needles-didn’t-drop!) Scotch pine
though when Gramps arrived we could always manage
a quick, Norwegian jig or two to some Christmas songtree
or another playing on the transistor radio in the corner

We had no fireplace chimney by which to hang stockings
though a small nail in the wooden archway between our
living and dining room did the trick, diminished none of
morning’s excitement of a stuffed stocking, hanging

We had no fire on which to roast chestnuts or standnormanrockwellchristmastrio
before singing carols, though my father would sporadically
duet with Nat King Cole on the radio, as together they
extolled the virtues of a Christmas foreign to us;
an archetype we did quite nicely without

I remember youthful Christmases for what they were;NatKingColealbum
fun, joyful, memorable though not all that lyrical.

“Although it’s been said, many times, many ways…
Merry Christmas to you.” And to me.

Mark Lucker

Third day

no hens French, partridge,
doves. Lover’s budget limit:
dinner, KFC

Yuletide Evenings

It’s the week before Christmas
as I sit in my chair
watching DVD fireplace-flames
licking video air

the room engulfed with sounds
of the season; beloved vinyl (old 33’s)
plus trusty cassettes, brand new CDs

crackling logs, favorite carols and
traditional tunes; the real meaning
of Christmas, humorous ones, too;

Of Rudolph and Frosty!
Bells silver and sleigh!
Shepherds and drummer boys
showing us the way!

All there in my easy chair, dog nestled
in at my side, the glow of our tree,
with thoughts of Christmases gone by

I can’t help but be filled with fresh
holiday cheer as Christmas invigorates
happens every year

It’s not just the memories, but
anticipation, too! For each Christmas
brings moments memorably new

But here in my living room,
my comfortable chair, I need something
I can’t get any other time of the year

I snuff out the fire, with a click of
the remote; I need something more now,
something with snow

White Christmas the choice, great
holiday fare, catch a few classic
numbers, then move on from there

Crosby and Clooney singing Irving Berlin
the week before Christmas; ringing it in

It’s a Wonderful Life, sentiment with
which I concur; then its A Christmas Story,
a boy and the b.b. gun he prefers

(nobody gets his eye shot out, contrary
to appearance) but tears always fall
whenever we hear ‘Attaboy, Clarence.’

My old holiday friends come and
join me each night; the dog and I
sit, she sleeps and shares my delight

On Frosty! On Ralphie!
On Rudolph and Hermie!
We cheer for George Bailey!
And for Linus’ speech with
Charlie Brown’s orphan tree!

On to 34th street, the miracle always
triumphs; for more weighty fare, we
have Ebenezer’s “Humbug!” harumphs.

The Grinch sees his heart grow, Scrooge
does as well; but which ‘Carol’ to choose?
Sim and Scott both excel

As the evening winds down, we rekindle the
fire; visitors gone now, time to retire

But before I settle down for a nice winter’s
nap, a few more carols, dog asleep in my lap

Before dousing the fire, unplugging the
tree,our home is quiet as it ever can be

Bedtime inventory, as we pass through
the house; familial artifacts from the
past; handmade and hand-me-downs, made
of cardboard and glass

And y grandmother’s Julenissen – impish
elf far older than me, winks as he skis
with his gifts ‘neath our tree

There are ornaments commemorating
events from our lives; children, now a new
grandson, we’re always adding more prizes

My dog stands at my side now, patiently
watching with wonder; her look says
‘It’s bedtime, I’ve covers to get under!’

But she’ll hear me whisper as we
kill the last lights; tomorrow’s
another old Christmas friends night.