The winter nights were dark until Christmas came to play,
Then strings of squinty stars lined every window frame.
All plugged in, Suburbia would electrify in glow,
Illuminating diamonds sparkling in the snow.
The lights, the love, the pristine pines, red bows and mistletoes,
Our little world was swirled into a Hallmark snow-globe.
A candy-cane cacophony of sugar snow and gifts,
This wonderland met its myth in the man who had the list:
A bearded saint, we were told, knew of all our wishes—
who we were and if we were good—with a God-like omniscience.
And unlike dusty legends now dead to time,
We left cookies for Santa: He was very much alive.
I recall one Christmas Eve, amidst crisp midwest wind,
My eyes saw some moving light that could have—possibly—been him:
A celebrity sighting up in the sky! Look! It's St. Nick!
(The drift of distant satellites blinks like Rudolf to us kids.)
Everything was possible inside our boundless minds:
We Believed it when Nat King crooned that "reindeers can fly."
With such imagination I would sit beneath our tree
Plucking off its ornaments to make-believe littles scenes.
Kermit the Frog, some plastic kitsch, was my heroic figurine.
He'd glide through all the branches to save his tree-crossed Queen.
And all of it felt real, a free flow of belief.
A reality we created through the one our mind's see.
The years carried on and we left that world behind,
As cold rationality clogged those magic minds.
Like when Pan returns for Wendy, to fly to Neverland,
And she replies: "Peter, I am Old ... I can't."
Those memories of guileless possibility
Seem some distant miracle to a grown man like me.
Now we may not be so young, but Christmas never changed.
It's still all red with gingerbread and the elves still look the same.
There's this Christmas-y motif which we collectively create—
A sphere of sounds and senses centered around this date,
A global covenant bigger than its Faith,
Like the whole world jingles if just for a day.
I don't know much history about this holiday.
We're told it's some dude's birthday—a holy man, they say.
A carpenter out of Nazareth who simply served and loved,
And realized our potential to channel kindness from above.
Sure, it's been commercialized and diluted into goo,
But the Spirit which speaks through it is the realization of this truth.
It's that spark of meaning lit inside of Scrooge,
Or how the Grinch's heart grows to make him someone new.
It's that oft-forgotten Knowledge It's a Wonderful Life:
That we're all angels earning wings, trying to do what's right.
And as Clarence reminds us, 'No man is poor who has friends.'
Perhaps real wealth is Community in the end.
And of course we all know that December bath of cheer,
Where chipper songs about chestnuts steal 'n tickle our ears.
How every melody and caroler's so merry it's almost weird,
As if Christ—whoever he was—is through the music somehow here.
Like under every Christmas song is a divine little twirl,
A smirk from his reality that sings joy to the world.
Today we gather under those old creeds,
Even as we blabber and eat mindlessly
And open random presents we don't really need.
But we find such triviality are the binds of family,
Where the tiniest dearest thing holds something sweet—
As we sit around a table enjoying my mom's toffee.
All the while a star shines atop a tree,
Winking to a child who beams in full belief
That his world will be lifted to magic on this night,
As a song behind him whispers, "Let your heart be light."
And when he becomes King he may reclaim this bliss,
Which hides inside the simple phrase: Merry Christmas.