Wrapped around itself,
Evergreen, fragrant of winter forests,
Adorned with berries, baubles, bells of gold,
Tacked to the front door...
Home for the holidays.
Trimmed with tinsel, bedecked with shiny bulbs,
Ribboned with red satin, strung with bright lights—
Each twinkling like an earthbound star in an
Santa snaps the reins. Red-nosed Rudolph
Leads the team of reindeer this early winter
Eve. Up, up
Into the sky with a cargo of Christmas
Gifts and goodies they rise, weaving through clouds. Can you
Hear the merry jingle of their silver bells?
Wrapped in a cellophane of sound:
a striped stick of sweetness,
red as Rudolph’s nose,
white as Santa’s beard.
Crinkle open your peppermint present.
Let your tongue celebrate
the wintry taste of Christmas.
Ride on a reindeer’s harness.
Tinkle in the icy air.
Jingle across milk-white snow.
Sing with a silver tongue.
We watch Babci make the Christmas babka.
on the white porcelain-topped table,
places it in a large sky-blue bowl,
covers it with a damp towel,
and sets it on the kitchen counter
near the hissing radiator.
the dough rises into a pale yellow cloud
flecked with bits of orange rind.
The baking babka fills the house
with the scent of Christmas.
its insides steaming and golden—
a homemade treasure
Just after sunset the whole family gathers
in my grandparents’ kitchen.
My father, Uncle Benny, and Dzidzi
bring up the spare table and chairs from the cellar.
Babci spreads white cloths printed with red ribbons
and bright green wreaths over the two tables.
Then she lays out platters of pierogis,
pillows of homemade dough
stuffed with fluffy mashed potatoes and onions
or sauerkraut, a bowl of jellied carp,
pickled herring smothered in onions,
and small dishes of horseradish
tinted pink with beet juice.
Before eating we stand around the table.
Dzidzi breaks the oplatek,
the thin white wafer blessed by the priest.
When everyone has taken a piece,
Dzidzi gives his blessing,
“May we all be happy, healthy,
and together in the year to come.”
Christmas Eve Polka
Uncle Benny opens his black instrument case
and lifts out his accordion.
He stretches it open, presses it closed.
We listen to it breathe and sigh.
He straps it over his broad shoulders.
Then he taps his right foot
on the shiny yellow linoleum,
sways from side to side
and makes it sing.
We polka out of the kitchen,
across the tiny parlor,
and down the narrow hallway
back into the kitchen.
Round and round
we dance through the house
making circles of laughter,
making circles of love.
Dzidzi tells us to put on our coats.
He steps off the front porch
and leads us down the stone walk
into the night.
Standing at the edge of his garden,
He looks up at the winter sky.
“There,” he says pointing to Orion’s belt.
“There are the Three Wise Men.
They followed a bright star to Bethlehem.
They journeyed far from home
just as Babci and I did many years ago
when we left Poland to come to America.”
He turns his eyes toward the house,
red lights glowing in the windows,
then gazes at his snow-covered garden.
“Remember this night,” he tells us.
“Remember this place.
Remember all the happy times we have shared here.
Every Christmas Eve look up at the Three Wise Men
The Poetry Friday Roundup is at Book Aunt this week.