Tuesday, December 6, 2016

O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!

A-Poem-a-Day Until Christmas

Photo credit: breakfastwithaudrey.com


Mid-seventies through mid-eighties
we caravanned each December
with the Mingerams, Leys and Shaws
to a tree farm in North Jersey
Our quest, the perfect tree

Bundled against cold
we trudged through snow
with rope and hand saws
in pursuit of a white or Scotch pine
or stately blue spruce
till we agreed and tagged our selection
Then, usually Dad, but sometimes Mom
and occasionally one of the children
shimmied beneath low laden boughs
belly in the snow
to saw the trunk and bring it down
We dragged the fragrant conifer down the slope
hoisted it onto the car roof
where it suddenly appeared
taller than we'd realized

Stopping for hot dogs on the way home
once someone asked
if the forest tied to our Volvo
were the municipal tree

We proudly set our trophy in a bucket of water
until the week before Christmas
then struggled
to force it through the doorway
(one time breaking the jamb)
dragged it through the dining room
into the sunken living room
and lifted its grandeur into a heavy duty stand
sometimes scratching the white cathedral ceiling

Friends often came to help
Mom brought out platters of pigs in blankets,
cheeses and dips, her very special homemade cookies
and a punch bowl of frothy nog
Out came boxes, boxes, boxes
of lights and tinsel and antique balls
hundreds of ornaments
made in Mom's ceramic classes
as well as Patti Ley's exquisite handpainted balls
carefully wrapped in wads of tissue
There were gift ornaments, travel momentos
miniature nativities, a Star of David
fashioned out of painted Popsicle sticks
and popcorn and cranberry chains
strung by the children
Some brave soul would climb a ladder
and lean way, way over
to place the Lenox angel on tippy top

We'd flick a switch and oooooh at its magnificence
Throughout the holidays, as the great tree settled
we'd keep clippers nearby
so we could snip our way into the living room

Late at night after the children were in bed
Mom would sit in the dark
except for the twinkling tree lights
and gaze peacefully at the glitz and glitter

After New Year's
came the tedious task of taking the tree down
wrapping, boxing and putting away
There was always an amusing moment
in the midst of drudgery
when somewhere deep inside the branches
we'd come upon an empty Coors can
(Bob Ley's annual prank)
We'd wrap the tree in an old bed sheet
lug it to the curb
and spend the next eleven months
vacuuming brittle needles
out of the shag

Maude Carolan

Mark your calendar: The next poetry event will take place Saturday, December 17th, 7 p.m., at the ANT Bookstore & Cafe, 345 Clifton Avenue, Clifton, NJ. I will be joined by two poet/friends, Pastor EJ Emerson and Sister Jane Abeln, SMIC. Holiday music will be provided by Victoria Warne, Peter DiBella, Rikki Woods and Lidya Diaz. An open mic period will follow. Come, enjoy the festivities and the Christmas cookies, too! James Gwyn and Victoria Warne host this popular event on the third Saturday evening of each month.

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