I would really like to write about
Christmas and what seems to have come
Of that holiday, once pastoral and quiet,
Now boisterous and commercialized;
Now full of phony Santas that
Get arrested, get drunk,
Carry revolvers and paper bags with
Wet tops from thirsty lips.
What happened to all those families
That came from everywhere
With poinsettias and presents from the heart,
Gifts that don't enslave but enrapture
The heart with humanism and hope
And a feeling of thanks for small reprieves
From the brutal clarity of life and living?
What changed those young eyes
Once filled with wonder of mysterious things
To greedy eyes, comparing eyes,
Eyes that twitch and dodge and search?
What happened to change the spirit
Of parties from comradery to carousals
Of drunkenness and avarice,
To where bosses say, "No parties,"
And people just seethe with anger and disquiet?
I remember a sense of Christmas,
And the searching of my behavior
In the light of love.
Did I mistreat you sometime?
The love that welled up
Made me feel inadequate
Made me promise not to take for granted
My family and those around me.
Now it's been speeded up and
Everybody rushes to shopping centers,
Spends, spends, spends like crazy
Just finishing in time to bestow
And to be bestowed upon.
And everybody's nervous.
Everybody's edgy with the pressure.
What pressure? If Jesus did exist,
Let alone was the Son of God,
He never meant that his birthday
Be a crossfire exchange of material objects
From everyone to everyone else.
What was to be exchanged
We emotions felt by all human beings,
Lost and wandering on a small planet
Drifting through the void, the abyss, for each other.
It's not a time to forget all the problems
We've caused for each other and have a drink.
It's a time to say what's
On our minds
And then build on that.
Christmas is not a truce in the fighting.
Oh no. It's the celebration
Of a beginning.
And then you come to the moment
That everyone is rushing towards
And when they get there, are scared
To look, to feel, to care, and to love.
What in the world is this anyway?
If we are all brothers --
All love one another --
Why all the fuss?
Why don't we just break down the barriers,
Join hands and sing awhile?
"Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells,
Oh, jingle all the way..."
"The last Christmas I believed in Santa Claus,"
She said, "was two years ago, and I know
I heard bells!" That a chained tire
When it hits hard pavement
Sounds like bells to a little girl
Half asleep in her room
Two stories up, is simply wonderful.
Too bad it's two years now
That tire chains sound no bells.
"Since we're not having dinner,
No Christmas dinner, can you imagine that?!
Well, since there's no dinner
We can't open the presents tonight.
We have to open them on Christmas
Morning or Christmas will be nothing,
What else is there than
Presents and food, after all?
Is there hope? Is there charity?
Will there be peace on Earth?
Let's hope so.
But, on the other hand,
I've also seen a turning away
In the non-celebration of Christmas.
When it's as in in the heart
None who have ever love Christmas
Can forget or wish not to be a part
And participate ...
Give freely of yourself.
And then it's over. Who is Santa anyway?
Who brings all these turtle-neck sweaters,
Ski-boots, radios, books, cooking gear,
Lunch boxes, peanuts, chap-sticks, rings,
Perfume, spice racks, shavers, cameras,
Crock-pots, exercise devices and albums
For pictures taken during all the hustle
With people smiling, some worried,
Children with their eyes flitting and flattering.
I saw eighty-four-year-old tears today
From the eyes of a woman filled with inadequacies
And doubts of her own worthiness ....
I was fighting greedy thoughts before the tree
As presents came to everyone and to me.
Now, the sounds of wrapping paper filling
Waste baskets beautifully, and boxes
Being collapsed and stacked:
To wait in closets like skeletons
For next year. "Next year," she said,
"We'll start earlier."
Nearly out of breath we recede
Like melting snow on a wild evergreen
Back to earth, back to work,
Back to troubles, back to bosses,
Back to doubts and back to ourselves,
Our lives, our lies.
Back to normal, the post-Christmas world
Seems to spin, still twenty-three degrees off,
Seems to be as full of life and life's trials
As ever, as always, as before.
The politicians are as tricky,
Society is as sporadic,
Friends are a steady ....
I wonder if writing this has changed anything,
I wonder if it should be changed.
Perhaps this is the best world possible,
Perhaps it is not.
But in writing this for the past three days
I see that nothing shakes my premise
That life is still mysterious and whatever
You make of it. Whether God sends
Armageddon, or Mars sends missiles,
Life goes on till it's over;
It's not what happens to you,
But your attitude towards it,
December 25, 1975