there’s a christmas coming

There’s a Christmas coming, whether we like it or not.

We’ve seen it inching its way into line,
behind Thanksgiving and Halloween.
Cutting in line, in fact,
pushing its bags into our backs,
elbowing into corners,
whistling its tunes in our ears
as we wait to buy our groceries.

We’ve seen it in the rearview mirror for a few miles now,
trying to pass before the next intersection.
It’s a car-full of love and joy,
we know,
but the work of getting there–
well.

The sisters who bought all their gifts in July
are starting to let the bits and pieces slide
out of cupboards and closets
where they’ve lain in wait.

The husbands who saw The Perfect Thing in catalogs
are huddling behind closed doors and making phone calls
that include the recitation of number sequences
too long to count.

We’ve tried to hold this Christmas at bay,
knowing that it’s stretchy to begin with,
extending several weeks in each direction
past the horizon.

If we’re not careful, it will snow over
the turkey,
the monsters,
the changing colors of the leaves,
eventually taking over
late-summer picnics and swimming pools,
the fireworks,
the shamrocks and hearts,
till its bells and lights are a never-ending parade
from one year to another.

So for now, we postpone, just a bit.

We know this is the time there are more break-ups and divorces than usual.

We know this is the time the children become demanding.

We know this is the time of secrets and cookies and arguing over decorations because this is the Perfect Time, so if’s not Perfect, we might fall apart until next year.

We put on that CD of our family friends singing–
the one we cherish, even now, knowing
that the wife lost her job,
and the marriage is in jeopardy,
and the kids have rebelled–
but we still hear their voices
fifteen years in the past,
still wishing us well,
still wishing us merry.

We remember other faces at the table who have come and gone,
and see again the ones who have stayed.

We examine the broken glass we’ve kept in the storage of our hearts–
the broken expectations,
the love we lost,
the fragments of what once was,
and we work to make this glass into
ornaments that shine around our pain
until that shine comes in the door,
just a peek,
and we look up after saying,
“Just a minute, I’m busy–”
and realize that the time is now.

It’s here,
and we’re here,
and we will take the angels out
and hug our friends
and share our candles,
and in that moment we can sigh
and breathe
and take each other in.

There’s a Christmas coming whether we like it or not.

And it will stay and it will go,
and we will wonder why it went so fast.

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