For those of you not in the UK, people here count how many days that they are into Advent before they hear this song (in the shops, on the radio). When you hear it, you have been Whammed……
There fared a mother driven forth
Out of an inn to roam;
In the place where she was homeless
All men are at home.
The crazy stable close at hand,
With shaking timber and shifting sand,
Grew a stronger thing to abide and stand
Than the square stones of Rome.
For men are homesick in their homes,
And strangers under the sun,
And they lay on their heads in a foreign land
Whenever the day is done.
Here we have battle and blazing eyes,
And chance and honour and high surprise,
But our homes are under miraculous skies
Where the yule tale was begun.
A Child in a foul stable,
Where the beasts feed and foam;
Only where He was homeless
Are you and I at home;
We have hands that fashion and heads that know,
But our hearts we lost – how long ago!
In a place no chart nor ship can show
Under the sky’s dome.
This world is wild as an old wives’ tale,
And strange the plain things are,
The earth is enough and the air is enough
For our wonder and our war;
But our rest is as far as the fire-drake swings
And our peace is put in impossible things
Where clashed and thundered unthinkable wings
Round an incredible star.
To an open house in the evening
Home shall men come,
To an older place than Eden
And a taller town than Rome.
To the end of the way of the wandering star,
To the things that cannot be and that are,
To the place where God was homeless
And all men are at home.
An additional Christmas treat from Ankh Spice in New Zealand:
On the downslope from solstice
our true December trees
are brazen, bloody-bright. You can keep
your dark, doomed pines, all smooth tradition
for the baubles – sadness-
-in-waiting beneath fake snow –
that never worked out here
on the edge. Our festive day is gaudy
with the tinsel-glare of sun, we grew up ripe
to glut ourselves on light this time
of year. The young, the old, they really crave
the exact same simple gift. And pōhutukawa,
she shows you every year how to age
shamelessly. Carried on her auntie’s back
toward the squalling new year, you’ll hear
her last dirty old laugh with your eyes
open (none of your damn grace required), flinging
all that made the new gods whisper scarlet wanton
to the hot south wind, spreading fierce
naked claim and delight. Every path,
every last road out of here, it pants
with spent red. It’s so easy
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It’s Christmas Eve and the kitchen is a mess
everything crusted with flour as more pastry is made
because someone has eaten all the mince pies already.
The jelly stuffed full of Rum soaked sponges has finally set
providing a foundation for our Christmas Trifle
and the Christmas Cake has been iced
with red rocketships rather than holly.
Meanwhile someone is melting dark chocolate
to make a Yule Log the way Grandad used to
and not looking guilty at all.
I smile and close the door on my adult sons as
their chocolate fuelled laughter resounds in my ears.
Christmas is finally here!
Copyright © 2020 Kim Whysall-Hammond
This poem appeared yesterday on Sarah Connors Advent Calendar, but I couldn’t help but blog it again today, as it is about our own little Christmas Eve tradition.
Many years ago, I would leave the bulk of the Christmas baking until Christmas Eve, and have an all day marathon with my two little boys. By the time Daddy came home from work, they were happy and above all tired. Not over excited at all, so sleep came easy to them and Father Christmas could drink his Calvados, eat his mince pie and fill those stockings.
The mess is a family joke –when they were young, somehow the house on Christmas Eve was littered with floury handprints…
As they grew up, the lads decided to do all the baking (and a lot of eating) on thier own. They make the Christmas Cake (a traditional fruit cake), mince pies, a chocolate Yule Log cake, and a Trifle. And yes, extra batches of pies are made, as the first batch always vanishes.
They cook the main meal on Christmas Day too, so we are very lucky parents!
I was honoured and pleased when Sarah Connor asked me for a poem to put in her poetry advent calendar –there have been so many good poems there!
Today, it’s my turn with Peering into the Kitchen –a fun poem about my sons doing the Christmas baking.
Thanks Sarah — this has been fun! I look forward to the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day poems!
Another fine poem from Jim Feeney posted as part of Sarah’s Advent Calendar. Enjoy……
Your cell phone rings
but you’re not listening
because you left it
in The Fox and Vixen
behind the cistern
in the last stall on the left
next to the condom machine
and now it’s 4 am
your wife sleeps soundly beside you,
in the corner of the room
your hangover squats
sorting a tray of instruments.
It all began with a few beers,
some Christmas Cheer
so how did it get
from there to here?
Slowly you remember or think you remember….
Did you really poke your boss in the chest
and tell him that you know better
that you know best?
Did you really down three shots of scotch
grab Mark from marketing by the shoulders
and proclaim “I love you bro”
over and over ‘till he begged you to stop
to let go?
And why, why, why
did you call that shy Dutch girl from accounting
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The clever and enterprising Sarah (https://fmmewritespoems.wordpress.com/) has created a poetry Advent Calendar.
Simply go to https://adventmyfriend.com/101755/da6c0e0a61/, and click on a number. You will see a photo and a link to the poem of the day.
It’s a great way to discover some new poets.
(and a poem of mine is in there too!!)
Another wonderful poem from Glenys about family life. Do go and check out her poetry, she tells such great stories so well….
On Christmas Day after
the excitement of presents
Dad lies on the living room floor
on his side, head on hand as
baby brother leans backwards
and forwards rocking to and fro
on his chubby bottom against
Dad’s stomach, absorbed in his
new playskool toy with a
rolling barrel, levers to push.
He thumps on one lever, laughs
at its loud ringing noise, stares
in fascination as the barrel rolls
and rings, thumps the lever again,
murmurs excitedly to himself.
Dad watches as baby brother
plays, grinning broadly at this
intent little fellow, so engrossed
in his fabulous new toy.
Previously posted March 2017
“A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.”
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.
Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.
All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.
By T S Eliot
Merry Christmas one and all…..