Oh, Christmas!

Here’s a poem by a former professor of mine.  He used to read it to us at the end of every fall semester, on the last day of class, as a final send-off before the Christmas break.  I’ve always loved this poem for the way that it so perfectly explores the mixed blessings the American holiday season bestows upon us.

By: Scott Cairns (from Figures For The Ghost)

Well, it was beginning to look a lot like Christmas—everywhere,
children eyeing the bright lights and colorful goods, traffic a good
deal worse than usual, and most adults in view looking a little
puzzled, blinking their eyes against the assault of stammering
bulbs and public displays of goodwill. We were all embarrassed,
frankly, the haves and the have-nots—all of us aware something
had gone far wrong with an entire season, something had eluded
us. And, well, it was strenuous, trying to recall what it was that
had charmed us so, back when we were much smaller and more
oblivious than not concerning the weather, mass marketing, the
insufficiently hidden faces behind those white beards and other
jolly gear. And there was something else: a general diminishment
whose symptoms included the Xs in Xmas, shortened tempers,
and the aggressive abandon with which most celebrants seemed
to push their shiny cars about. All of this seemed to accumulate
like wet snow, or like the fog with which our habitual inversion
tried to choke us, or to blank us out altogether, so that, of a given
night, all that appeared over the mess we had made of the season
was what might be described as a nearly obscured radiance, just
visible through the gauze, either the moon disguised by a winter
veil, or some lost star—isolated, distant, sadly dismissing of us,
and of all our expertly managed scene.

-Laura Kopchick

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