I dedicate this poem to our dear friend, the boundlessly talented Cowgirl Poet, Susie Knight.
At first I wasn't clear about what I wanted to say or why I felt compelled to write this poem. But, as I began to cobble together this preface, my reasons became obvious. The seed for this story was planted while I watched my bride decorating our home for Christmas as she traditionally does, every year, just after Thanksgiving Day. She was placing ornaments on the tree. Ornaments, in our home, and I suspect in most, have distinct origins and lingering sentiments.
This poem is a compendium of my mixed thoughts and emotions around The Holidays. Now and then, at a Christmastime so filled with her love and joy, I ponder some on what a Christmas without her would be like should my wife be gone before me. And, there's still that annual Christmas pang since my mother passed. Also, it saddens me that our kids are so far away at the Holidays.
Make no mistake, I continue to like and enjoy The Holidays and their traditions immensely.
Nevertheless, and lastly, it seems important and honest to acknowledge the reality that Christmas just isn't necessarily, always, a joyous time for some.
Christmas Mail to an Empty Chair
It's that time of year again
Gotta get the box outt'a the attic
Don't really fancy doin' it
But don't want the kids to give me static
Cut us a Christmas tree yesterday
From where we used to picnic on the hill
I stopped to pray beside your grave
Been two years and it pains me wicked still
When our children show tomorrow
That box of memories will open
Out will flood the yuletides we shared
Cut short of dreams we were hopin'
The delicate glass and shapes
We'll hang with love on the Noble Fir tree
With fond smiles and held-back tears
Each ornament bearing a memory
There's the one from our honeymoon
We picked up down in San Antone
I never considered at the time
I'd hang it on the tree alone
We'll set out the hand-crafted creche
Built the year our son was born
Maybe this year I’ll fix that piece
Where Mary’s scarf has been torn
I'll smile and hug our children
Family all around again
There'll be laughter and stories
Of all the good ol', 'way 'back when'
I'll shore 'nuff be glad to see ‘em
Of course it's the common family way
We'll sing carols and make merry
As your piano gets its yearly play
I'm sure to hold it together
Though it's about all I can bear
Our daughter looks just like you
Sometimes she notices my stare
We'll open presents together
No one will speak your cherished name
I think they’re silent respectin’ me
Without you, Christmas ain't the same
We'll eat our Christmas feast
I’ll do my part by blessing a prayer
Sitting at the head of the table
At the other end is your empty chair
There’ll be a turkey and all fixin’s
Prepared here in your pots and pans
I can't help but see you cookin'
With your deft and soft kitchen hands
Still, when all has settled down,
When all have left on Christmas Day
Meekly, I’ll slide between the sheets
The bed where you no longer lay
I'll rest my head on your pillow
Breathing your still-faint scent
And then let loose the pent-up tears
It just ain't Christmas since you went
As I do each night routinely
Not just in this Christmas season
In order to staunch the flow
I'll pause, still my heart, and reason
I'll whisper up my daily praise,
Offerin' gratitude for peace in prayer
Thankin' God that you're in heaven
Comforted, one day I'll join you up there
by Rik "Yonder" Goodell
© 2023. All rights reserved
This sentimental, nostalgic painting is by Jack Sorenson. I am grateful for his permission to post his art here alongside my poem.
To see more of his work, go to his website: https://www.jacksorensonfineart.com