Literary Hook: Finding joy and serenity this holiday season

November 28, 2012

Christine Swanberg

By Christine Swanberg
Author and Poet

For men and women “of a certain age,” Christmas comes packed with memories. Sometimes the season is so “thick” that the urge to simplify takes over.

Here is a poem that celebrates simplifying Christmas. Sometimes it takes a conscious intention to simplify Christmas, but the results can yield less stress and a refreshing approach to the holidays that leaves you time for joy and serenity.

Christmas Reflection


You walk down the cold basement stairs,

“‘Tis the season to be jolly” on your mind.

When you open the cool closet doors,

familiar musty shelves of boxes,

crates of memories and junk sift together

like the butter cookies you no longer eat.


Scrawled on the crumbling cardboard:

Textbooks. Hawaii. Wedding. Will.

Christmas. Christmas. Christmas.

Dusty, plastic holly cascades from one.

A too cute Santa winks from another

(his good eye stolen by the cat).

Forty years of grab bags, office parties:

so many well-intentioned little gifts.

So bless the crafto-maniacs who slide

into your life, who leave the tacky ornaments

you finally have the courage to throw away.

Yes, bless them. But not this year.

No. Today you’ll choose just one,

perhaps a small, crystal manger scene

close the chilly doors with a snap,

and scurry up the stairs. You might place it

nestled among four Advent candles

on the white lace of an old dining room table.

When you turn on white lights of the chandelier,

prisms sparkle. Stars on the ceiling!

Silent Night” you might be humming,

lighting candles in the warm room,

or maybe another song will come to you:

“‘Tis a gift to be simple, a gift to be free.”

Christine Swanberg is a local author and poet. She received the Lawrence E. Gloyd Community Impact Award at the 2012 Rockford Area Arts Council State of the Arts Awards. Her books include Who Walks Among the Trees with Charity (Wind Publishing, Kentucky), The Red Lacquer Room (Chiron Publishing, Kansas), The Tenderness of Memory (Plainview Press, Texas), Slow Miracle (Lakeshore Publishing, Illinois) and Invisible String (Erie St., Illinois).

From the Nov. 28-Dec. 4, 2012, issue

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