Collaboration with my friend Larry Fulford. It's quite a poor Christmas this year for the both of us......but we're still trying to make the most of it. Merry Christmas everyone!
“’Twas Quite the Poor Christmas”
‘Twas quite the poor Christmas and all through the duplex,
not a creature was stirring, except for some insects.
Nothing was hung on nary a wall
‘cause we could afford nothing at all.
Our son was asleep on the living room futon,
dreaming of eating something other than croutons.
I surfed the web, searching for work,
when the front door opened and I turned with a jerk.
It was my husband, the man I admired,
home with great news, he too had been fired.
Or laid off, whatever, with no severance pay.
He smelled like my grandpa after drinking all day.
I made us some coffee by straining the grounds
I’d used that morning and then I sat down
with him to talk about how we’d get through this
and how much it would suck to be our kid on Christmas.
Over tears and shit coffee, we worried aloud,
about things like our parents dying before we could make them proud.
Then we tucked our boy in with a second-hand quilt
and went to bed wracked with unbearable guilt.
We lay on our sides, backs to each other,
too distraught to sleep or face one another.
When what broke the silence of the still winter air,
but the whisper behind me of a last-resort prayer:
“Dear god that I’ve never really believed in,
if you’re up there, could you please help us out this season?
I promise I’ll never say ‘goddamn’ again
or whatever you want me to do. Amen.”
Then he drifted to sleep as I lie there awake,
a pain in my stomach and a monster headache.
But there’d be no doctor visits, not without a job,
with such a tall mountain of bills to pay off.
Bright and early, our boy came in to wake us,
eager to open his two Christmas presents.
And so we put on our best poker faces,
knowing damn good and well we weren’t holding aces.
We ate ramen for breakfast, red-eyed and tired,
washed it down with milk that was nearly expired.
Oblivious to how much more poor we now were,
our son said, “Merry Christmas.” Yeah, “Merry.” For sure.
On his knees at the base of our Charlie Brown tree,
he shook both his presents and smiled with glee.
The tags said, “From Santa,” but that was a lie.
They were from his father and I.
I guess I should mention that his gifts were wrapped
in paper towels, plastic bags, and brown paper sacks.
But we layered them so they’d be harder to open,
since that’s half the fun, or all the fun if you’re broke and
he tore into the wrapping as his smile faded.
“Isn’t this my baseball mitt?” he contemplated.
He looked at me confused and I forced a grin, ”I guess Santa knows those are better broken in.”
Now with brow furrowed he opened the other,
and, filled with confusion, turned back to his mother,
“Is this the sweater I got last year?”
Unable to lie, I replied, “Yes dear.”
If you stuck with this hoping for a happy ending,
I regret to inform you, one isn’t pending.
We eked by through New Year’s and into the Spring,
when we had to pawn both of our wedding rings.
Lost the house around Easter and moved in with my parents,
took a job cleaning condos and it became apparent:
Growing up ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Sometimes you have to give up on your dreams.
So it’s actually better to have no dreams at all.
If you don’t rise to the middle you won’t have to fall.
And, listen up kids, your parents are right:
These really are the best days of your life.
You’ve got no bills and your groceries are free.
Sure school is a drag, but you’re not homeless, at least.
Enjoy what little you have at this time.
Who knows what could happen ten years down the line?
There’s cancer and AIDS, car payments and strife.
You don’t work for allowance, you work to survive.
If you can afford college, there’s still no guarantee
you’ll land that dream job with that hard-earned degree.
Life is a crapshoot and it’s best to go in,
knowing beforehand the house always wins.
So eat, drink, and be merry.
Try to laugh through the fear.
Not only on Christmas,
but each day of the year.