Christmas – past present and future

Who knows how long this can continue,

this tenure in the future through collective presents.

Whatever the generations bring,

there will be totems of the past

fixed firmly insistent in each of our minds,

arrayed with faces carved in the hard woods

that only family trees produce

and set, sometimes poles apart, in the family grove.


These are some of mine.


 Children growing themselves from new numbers each year,

all named and loved and parented in common for a day

with tear-filled eyes, chocolate-coated faces and grinny cheeks,

each hoisted to embrace and admiration,

all feats applauded and all false pride mocked.


Food, prepared as sanctioned by time,

in unspoken, ordained ritual by the women,

the bearers of all sustaining life.


Men, surrounded by seemingly unobservant boys,

using beer to shorten stretching distances,

quietly competing every hurdle

until a child clings to a leg

and wins.


Lives past, sitting patiently in reserved and sacred chairs,

coming back to life in anecdotes

of bastardry and joy.


Toddlers and crawlers, excited and bewildered,

knee-deep in wrapping paper and parental nostalgia.


Babes at breast, absorbing every nuance

through the pores of their clan skin

and the memories encoded in their mother’s milk.


The married-ins, belonging in their separateness

to this caravan, as hopeful and as helpless

as those that followed a certain star

but at least knowing for whom they bear their gifts.


And, amidst all, the matriarch unfolds a pattern

and, with skills both ancient and subtle,

draws to her strands unknitted,

in case they ever unravel

and pull the fabric apart.


These are my totems, taking firmer shape with each year,

and living beyond any other presents shared.

And they ensure that all our futures

will have at least one day

not alone.

2 thoughts on “Christmas – past present and future

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