A repost from my dad in honor of our first holiday season without him…this originally appeared on January 10, 2014, although I wrote the poem he included in 2004.
'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through my house
Not a creature was stirring, not even the dead skunk in the garage.
The Christmas trees were alight in every single room,
Evidence that my mother had recently been there.
Just one child was nestled all snug in her bed,
While visions of sugar plums danced in her head.
And my sister in her (tarty) earrings, and I in my (dangerously pointy) heels,
Were still hours away from a long winter's nap
(But at least my pedicure made it this far).
When out on the porch there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the door I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutter, and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow (this IS upstate New York)
Gave the lustre of midday to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a few aunts and uncles, and sixteen-plus cousins.
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be Uncle Bill.
More rapid than eagles, his courses they came,
and he whistled and shouted and called them by name:
"Now Andrea! Now Emily!
Now, Kelley and Andy!
On, Christopher! On, Chloe!
On, Jason and Peter!
To the top of the porch!
To the top of the wall!
Now dash inside! Dash inside!
Dash inside all!"
And then, in a twinkling, we were packed into a church
The fat lady squeezed behind the holy water, her perch.
As I drew in my head and was turning around,
Down the aisle came the crazy priest with a bound.
He was dressed like Bono, from his sunglasses to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with excessive(!) incense and soot.
His eyes--how they twinkled! His dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
What was he smoking before the mass?
He rambled about Iraq and misused the word “crass”
That his associations were loose and his ideas tangential
Convinced my father that he was really quite mental.
(A recent schizophrenic break, perhaps?)
At home again, we spoke not a word, but went straight to our work,
Filling our bellies with shrimp scampi, aubergine parmigiana, and biscotti.
And opening presents at Chloe’s command
No one was embarrassed by lingerie from great-aunts.
And as we emptied my parents’ liquor supply all around,
We discovered that there was no Red Bull to be found.
Jay and Pete sprang to Andy’s sleigh
And away they all slid down the icy road (barely missing a large rock).
But they made it back in time for some Jäger bombs
But at last I heard Chris exclaim,
"Nothing says ‘Merry Christmas’ like drinking with family!"
In loving memory of those we lost in the years since I wrote this poem;
we will miss you on Christmas Eve.
Thomas Glenn Brown
1948 - 2014
Olympia "Aunt Bea" McAleese
1920 - 2011
Ann Marie Killino
1940 - 2011
William "Uncle Bill" McAleese
191_ - 2007
and in celebration of Landon, Gavin, Finn, Brooke and Aria,
who have joined us for many Christmas Eves to come.
|On the front porch of my grandparents' and great-grandparents' house,|