To Swell Thy Christmas Chime

A Wreath

by George Herbert

A wreathèd garland of deservèd praise,
Of praise deservèd, unto Thee I give,
I give to Thee, who knowest all my ways,
My crooked winding ways, wherein I live,—
Wherein I die, not live ; for life is straight,
Straight as a line, and ever tends to Thee,
To Thee, who art more far above deceit,
Than deceit seems above simplicity.
Give me simplicity, that I may live,
So live and like, that I may know Thy ways,
Know them and practise them: then shall I give
For this poor wreath, give Thee a crown of praise.



The Christmas Wreath

by Anna de Brémont

Oh! Christmas wreath upon the wall,
     Within thine ivied space
I see the years beyond recall,
     Amid thy leaves I trace
The shadows of a happy past,
     When all the world was bright,
And love its magic splendour cast
     O’er morn and noon and night.

Oh! Christmas wreath upon the wall,
     ’Neath memory’s tender spell
A wondrous charm doth o’er thee fall,
     And round thy beauty dwell.
Thine ivy hath the satiny sheen
     Of tresses I’ve caressed,
Thy holly’s crimson gleam I’ve seen
     On lips I oft have pressed.

Oh! Christmas wreath upon the wall,
     A mist steals o’er my sight.
Dear hallow’d wreath, these tears are all
     The pledge I now can plight
To those loved ones whose spirit eyes
     Shine down the flight of time;
Around God’s throne their voices rise
     To swell the Christmas Chime!

A Touch of Myrrh

Ted Kooser

Christmas Mail

by Ted Kooser

Cards in each mailbox,
angel, manger, star and lamb,
as the rural carrier,
driving the snowy roads,
hears from her bundles
the plaintive bleating of sheep,
the shuffle of sandals,
the clopping of camels.
At stop after stop,
she opens the little tin door
and places deep in the shadows
the shepherds and wise men,
the donkeys lank and weary,
the cow who chews and muses.
And from her Styrofoam cup,
white as a star and perched
on the dashboard, leading her
ever into the distance,
there is a hint of hazelnut,
and then a touch of myrrh.



Mistletoe

 
by Walter de la Mare
 
Sitting under the mistletoe
(Pale-green, fairy mistletoe),
One last candle burning low,
All the sleepy dancers gone,
Just one candle burning on,
Shadows lurking everywhere:
Some one came, and kissed me there.
 
Tired I was; my head would go
Nodding under the mistletoe
(Pale-green, fairy mistletoe),
No footsteps came, no voice, but only,
Just as I sat there, sleepy, lonely,
Stooped in the still and shadowy air
Lips unseen—and kissed me there

It Seemed Like The Next Thing To Do

 

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Photograph by Rikki Patton. 2019

To live as gently as I can;
To be, no matter where, a man;
To take what comes of good or ill
And cling to faith and honor still;
To do my best, and let that stand
The record of my brain and hand;
And then, should failure come to me,
Still work and hope for victory.

Edgar Guest

 

Eating The Cookies

by Jane Kenyon

The cousin from Maine, knowing
about her diverticulitis, let out the nuts,
so the cookies weren’t entirely to my taste,
but they were good enough; yes, good enough.

Each time I emptied a drawer or shelf
I permitted myself to eat one.
I cleared the closet of silk caftans
that slipped easily from clattering hangers,
and from the bureau I took her nightgowns
and sweaters, financial documents
neatly cinctured in long gray envelopes,
and the hairnets and peppermints she’d tucked among
Lucite frames abounding with great-grandchildren,
solemn in their Christmas finery.

Finally the drawers were empty,
the bags full, and the largest cookie,
which I had saved for last, lay
solitary in the tin with a nimbus
of crumbs around it. There would be no more
parcels from Portland. I took it up
and sniffed it, and before eating it,
pressed it against my forehead, because
it seemed like the next thing to do.


Edgar Guest was never a candidate for serious literary awards, but his popularity during his lifetime is largely forgotten, though quotes from his more than 11,000 published poems still make their way into our cultural milieu. Guest began his career as a copy boy at the Detroit Free Press and went on to be a reporter and regular columnist. At his height of popularity he was published weekly in more than 300 papers nationwide and in the 1940’s had his own radio show, sponsored by Land O’ Lakes creamery.  Guest’s poems are frequently inspirational, rhyming, optimistic and steeped in a light religious sauce. There isn’t much heavy lifting required to understand Guest’s poetry. In our 24/7 news cycle, I think it would it be refreshing to see newspapers publish poetry again. The New Yorker magazine continues to include poetry in every issue, I would love it if more publications followed suit.

This time of year I generally dig out the box that has some of my favorite holiday children’s books and reread a few from my children’s childhood or my own.  Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree remains one of my favorites as a fun rhymed children’s book about the magic of Christmas.  Do you have holiday children’s books that you re-read every year?  I would love to hear from you, please share your favorites.


At Christmas (Excerpt)

By Edgar Guest

Man is ever in a struggle
and he’s oft misunderstood;
There are days the worst that’s in him
is the master of the good,
But at Christmas kindness rules him
and he puts himself aside
And his petty hates are vanquished
and his heart is opened wide.
Oh, I don’t know how to say it,
but somehow it seems to me
That at Christmas man is almost
what God sent him here to be.

As Tree By Enterprise and Expedition

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Burl Ives – Silver and Gold

To A Young Wretch

by Robert Frost

As gay for you to take your father’s ax
As take his gun – rod – to go hunting – fishing.
You nick my spruce until its fiber cracks,
It gives up standing straight and goes down swishing.
You link arm in its arm and you lean
Across the light snow homeward smelling green.

I could have bought you just as good a tree
To frizzle resin in a candle flame,
And what a saving it would have meant to me.
But tree by charity is not the same
As tree by enterprise and expedition.
I must not spoil your Christmas with contrition.

It is your Christmases against my woods.
But even where, thus, opposing interests kill,
They are to be thought of as opposing goods
Oftener than as conflicting good and evil;
Which makes the war god seem no special dunce
For always fighting on both sides at once.

And though in tinsel chain and popcorn rope
My tree, a captive in your window bay,
Has lost its footing on my mountain slope
And lost the stars of heaven, may, oh, may
The symbol star it lifts against your ceiling
Help me accept its fate with Christmas feeling.


I was recently informed that only men over the age of 50 still watch Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer. I often watch it more than once during the holidays, so I fit the type casting. I have such positive memories around the gentle humor of Rudolph. It is a love story of misfits and many of us feel a bit like a misfit at Christmas.

I am well along in my holiday preparations. My Tom’s best of music CD for 2019 is complete in figuring out the two CD set and the CD’s nearly completely burned, I have to finish printing covers and put them together.  My Tom’s best of poetry for 2019 is figured out, the poems selected and the pages nearly completely printed. I need to finish making covers and then bind them together.  It all feels doable by Christmas. One more night of watching Rudolph while working on gifts and I will have it all done.  I hope you indulge yourself in holiday traditions and sentimental journeys and a bit of gift making. Happy Holidays.

 

Love Came Down At Christmas

By Christina Rossetti

Love came down at Christmas,
Love all lovely, love divine;
Love was born at Christmas,
Star and angels gave the sign.

Worship we the Godhead,
Love incarnate, love divine;
Worship we our Jesus:
But wherewith for sacred sign?

Love shall be our token,
Love shall be yours and love be mine,
Love to God and to all men,
Love for plea and gift and sign.