Thursday, December 24, 2015

Ghosts of a Christmas Past

by Patricia Cates

In a little square box tucked away in a drawer
Lie oodles of ornaments holding memories galore.
Some came from my grandma, and some came from hers
Some came with red sequins, some came with white furs.

There are reindeer and house pets, and little glass balls
Russian dancers and wise men, even miniature dolls.
Old tinsel found wrapped 'round the leg of a dove
By the finger of sister with all of her love.

She trimmed that fir tree every yule with such glee
That household, that family, one woman plus three.
For the men had all passed much too early in life
And now it was up to a diligent wife.

To carry on a tradition from a hundred years past
And hang every ornament, down to the last.
To the Hoffman's and Chaney's, the Allman's, and kin
I now promise to treasure the gifts I've been giv'n.

So each year I shall take out these small sparkling things 
And remember the love we all shared, and I'll sing!
Silent Night will be first and bring bittersweet tears
For the people I've lost over forty five years.

I'll remember each one of you and thank you for being
A part of my life, and in dreams I'll be seeing
Your sweet happy faces, and warm abode too
I'll dream of your voices and big hugs from you.

I'll bring out the albums to show off your boy.
To prove that he was, my dear father, a joy!
My children will learn of traditions and know
That we all come from you, and your parents, and so...

On 'til it goes back generations and then
With strength we'll create family memories again.
In your honor we celebrate all that's been shared
These gifts that you've given and all of your care.

So join us, please join us, ghosts of a Christmas past
In our hearts, at the table, in stories at last.
Until next year my cherished family of yore 
Thank you for these things and one year more.  

Author's note: The woman I mention is my grandmother, nee Mary Catherine Chaney. She is my paternal grandmother and was born in 1902, and my grandfather, Gordon Samuel Hoffman, in 1898. My grandfather died of a heart attack in 1963. My father, born in 1929, was killed in a car accident when I was 4 months old. Despite her losing her only son a few years after her husband, my dear grandmother kept the tree trimming tradition alive. Some of them date back to the early 1900's. The oldest of these I now keep in a silver box tucked away as they truly are irreplaceable. However my grandmother made many beautiful ornaments with her Garden Club in the 1950's and 1960's. Now my children place them on our tree and I have the privilege of telling them family stories. Sadly she passed away in 1996, and then my sister in 2005. Now it's up to me. Although the poem is childlike and basic in form, it was written in 20 minutes, with love. I plan to work on it. Merry Christmas!



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