Went out to get a very-late-night supper for the family (trying to see my lapse in “schedule” as delightfully bohemian) and spotted some of my current and former students sitting in Tim Horton’s. Chatted with the latter (thoroughly enjoyed the rolling of eyes and slumping into chair at my approach) and walked over to the former, who did not see me at first but looked around as though suddenly uncomfortable. When two of them noticed me at last, looming up behind, one remarked, “Geez, I was wondering why I suddenly felt like I was back in English class.” I laughed, “What did you feel the cold chill running up your spine?” The other responded, “Yeah, but we weren’t supposed to feel that for another two weeks.” “Don’t you sleep at the school?” Chimed in the first. Hardy-har-har. Good times!
And now, a poem:
Just three nights before Christmas, (’twas Solstice in fact),
And all through the house the children were crack’d.
Screaming like banshees, running upstairs and down,
Rampant play-fighting, pillows smacked on their crowns.
Dishes lay undone from supper, lunch, breakfast;
Wrapping paper strewn over presents amassed.
Price tags scratched poorly from plastic vacuum-formed,
Ripped bits of scotch tape littering hardwood floor.
When out in the kitchen there rang the wall-phone,
I debated pretending no-one was home.
Away from the tv I slogged with my wine,
Nearly knocked over twice by those children mine.
Loud voices all chorused right when I answered,
From both the phone and my offspring so hyper,
When what in my over-wrought ears did I hear
Six more people will come to dinner this year?
Just little more shopping should do the trick,
A Timelord could do it, and so could St. Nick.
But I gazed at the mess and against the wall sagged,
Gazing blearily at my kids through eyes bagged:
“Now daughter! Now son!
Let’s get to cleaning up!
On vacuum! Do mopping!
Garbage picked and dust cropped!
Write labels for the gifts!
Your playtime is over!
Pretend it’s a photo spread
For a magazine cover!”
Greeting cards flew before whirling brooms and bags,
Animals fled from the snapping of wet rags
We attempted some resemblance of order
Like two Hobbits finding their way through Mordor.
First the clutter: fliers and used envelopes
For listing priorities like getting soap.
Then puzzle pieces, markers, glue and felt bits
Swept into a basket and cleverly hid.
Random socks and hairbrushes, lint and dog hair,
Charging cords, fast-food wrappers, crap everywhere.
In the midst of nonsense, gift wrapping going on,
Turn off the TV; Mom’s productive with songs.
The lamps! How they sparkled! The dust wiped clean away!
The floors clear of debris at least for one more day!
I wondered, how long can I make this clean last?
After all, the mess always returns way too fast.
If Santa showed up tonight all would be well
Visitors tomorrow? Welcome! Ring the bell!
But THREE days of clean to be had, in a row?
The kids stared at my laughter, much concerned now.
We could go to Grandma’s, I thought with some cheer,
Until I remembered — she’s going to come here!
Refilled my wine glass with a sigh as I grieved,
Knowing we’ll have to clean again Christmas Eve.
But our house is warm and snug, that’s got some pull;
It’s lived in and comfy, though cluttered and full.
No magazine spread, nor model home is it,
All visitors welcome, just move stuff to sit!
Good impressions aside, this season’s about life,
Conversation and games, forget stress and strife.
“Off to bed, kids!” Peace finally arrives here.
Quiet joy in the longest night of the year.
(Based on “A Visit From St. Nicholas” by Clement C. Moore)