Bristles of jade spear my fingers and hands–
tiny droplets of blood stain my skin–
green and red–
must be Christmas time again.
Each year the same confusion and bustle…
Putting up the tree–
first the hell of picking it out
(god i’m cold it’s too small no that one’s too expensive god i’m cold)
then the lights
(why didn’t you test them before you put them on the tree?)
then the other decorations
(mommy I want to put on the star).
Collapsing into a coma on the couch,
Staring at the multicolored lights reflecting off of tinsel and sparkling glass,
I know why we do it.
Each year, lying near death, fighting off the curses that
frustration gives way to,
I find the one reason that exists to celebrate being nearsighted.
Glasses off, and all of the lights fade into stars,
a sea of brilliant tiny novas in blue, green, red, yellow,
exploding out of a Scotch pine darkness,
and only I can see them.
No wise men can follow them;
No angels herald their appearance;
No child in a manger;
No choirs singing
except perhaps the Royal Guardsmen somewhere playing a
scratchy version of “Snoopy’s Christmas”;
Only the stars, and only for me.
Glasses back on, and other work begins:
Where to go? What to buy? Will he like this? Do they need that?
(And will Mastercard go out of business if we ever skipped a Christmas?)
Packages pile up under the tree,
a collage of smiling Santas, Christmas forests, multifaceted snowflakes
on blue skies, and snowmen standing guard over the wealth below them–
laced with red and gold ribbons,
erupting here and there with brilliant fountains of bows–
A mountain of gifts, a volcano creating itself out of itself,
building higher and higher
until it threatens to engulf even the tree with its overpowering flow–
and then the flow turns outward,
couches and tables, lamps and knickknacks fall victim
like the props of a new Pompei.
But thousands of years will not have to pass before this treasure is excavated.
And then we find…
cookies and carols and spiked eggnog and friends and popcorn and candy and champagne and letters and cards and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and Joy to the World and Peace on Earth and love
and perhaps a little more eggnog (why not? ‘tis the season)
snow fresh-fallen, raccoon tracks in the yard, birds
at the feeder,
all God’s creatures great and small finding their gifts,
and the smallest here–
a small child, eyes agape as she descends the stairs,
tears into those Santas and snowflakes and forests and snowmen
(who can guard their charges no longer)–
and all of us, exhausted, just from watching,
stop for coffee–
and open our own–
In a couple of weeks the tree will be dead.
The ornaments and lights will be safely and neatly replaced in their boxes to wait patiently for the next eleven months to pass.
The Santas will be gone from the malls.
Probably Valentine’s Day decorations
will spring up in their place.
Visions of sugar plums, while they still may dance in children’s heads, will have to remain mere visions.
And Peace on Earth will undoubtedly remain as illusory as the shining, sparkling, dancing excitement of the lights glowing on a tree
which was already dying on the day we bought it,
as the sabre-sharp edges of its needles would attest.
But those million little novas…
God, the cascade of light…
Glasses off again, I stare until my eyes grow heavy.
And then I sleep.
And I know,
through the thickening fog of my dreams,
that I am smiling.