Scandinavian Traditions (on Christmas Eve)

Christmas waits like gift wrap glowing warm beneath welcoming arms
of pine needles hanging heavy –
inside, table set waits by candlelight, and each flame preens
in the eyes of orange and blue Dala horses.

Soon, with guided hands, we set the course of helgdad frukt soppa.
Like cinnamon and cardamom from the svenske kringlor in the oven,
knotted just how our grandmother taught us, we breathe.

{poem from last year, slightly revised … Merry Christmas poet friends!!}

Christmas 1945 by Alice B. Johnson

Merry Christmas week to those who celebrate it — this poem is from my great-grandmother Alice B. Johnson (from her book Where Children Live (1958))

Christmas 1945

This is the day, the Christmas day,
The world has waited for —
This is the dream men dreamed of home
For four long years and more.

This is the dream that brought them through
Bastogne and Bougainville —
Through jungle heat and frozen waste,
Beyond each numbered hill.

Hang up the holly, mistletoe,
And light the Christmas tree,
And dream tonight of Bethlehem —
Think not of Calvary.

Think not of crosses in a row
Or comrades resting there —
They sleep above the stars tonight,
Safe in a Father’s care.

traditions on Christmas Eve

Christmas waits like gift wrap glowing warm beneath the welcoming arms
of pine needles hanging heavy –
inside the table is set, waiting by candlelight, and each flame preens
in a spoon’ s reflection, giving the impression of a smile.

Soon, with guided hands, we set the course of helgdad frukt soppa.
I’ll sigh like the cinnamon from the svenske kringlor rising in the oven,
knotted just how our grandmother taught us.

the week before Christmas

Christmas Eve is a special tradition in my house – we have a “Scandinavian” meal in honor of my mom’s mom’s family. Today, I think a lot about my family, our traditions, what the end of the year means… To honor those who’ve gone before, I’d like to feature one of my great-grandmother’s poems (once again –Where Children Live 1958). She wrote a lot about the holiday (including some greeting cards), and I think it’s nice to spotlight her today. This is one most can relate to – and if you’re feeling like this now, good luck! And Merry Christmas!

The Week Before Christmas

Christmas comes but once a year …
If you ask me, that’s enough!
One week more in which to shop
And is the going rough …
One week more in which to bake,
To wash and iron and clean …
To make out lists I promptly lose,
On which I’ve learned to lean.
Christmas cards still to address,
Packages to send …
Through a long post-office line
My weary way I’ll wend.
Telephone orders to exchange,
This one is worth a laugh …
Size sixteen shirts? My husband wears
A fourteen and a half.
A napkin ring engraved this week?
The clerk seems sort of hazy
And looks at me as if to say,
“Lady! Are you crazy?”
Mentally I’m checking lists …
Order mistletoe,
Bayberry candles, icicles,
And artificial snow.
Check the light bulbs for the tree
And don’t forget the tree …
Are there ornaments enough?
Oh dear, I’d better see.
Order turkey, cranberries,
And mixed nuts from the store …
Have I forgotten something?
The wreath for the front door!
One week more for all the tasks
I’ve set myself to do …
One week of rushing here and there,
But happy through and through.

Christmas 1945

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it — this poem is from my great-grandmother Alice B. Johnson (from her book Where Children Live (1958))

This is the day, the Christmas day,
The world has waited for —
This is the dream men dreamed of home
For four long years and more.

This is the dream that brought them through
Bastogne and Bougainville —
Through jungle heat and frozen waste,
Beyond each numbered hill.

Hang up the holly, mistletoe,
And light the Christmas tree,
And dream tonight of Bethlehem —
Think not of Calvary.

Think not of crosses in a row
Or comrades resting there —
They sleep above the stars tonight,
Safe in a Father’s care.

harbor tunnel at 3:31am before Christmas

like eggshells
how they crack apart
except in here
over and over
like a blink, the white light walls
split into a slide show:

remember, lil sis,
using egg whites
to glaze the raw
sugar cookie Christmas dough…

blink.

remember our lil hands
tearing bread to top
“the egg dish” that
delicious Christmas morning food…

blink
the white light walls
frame a white utility van
at the tunnel’s end,
its tailights steady — oh
i think i’m moving
but it never gets any closer.