It’s the most wonderful time of the year
piping through the speakers at Trader Joe’s
as I imagine the many parts of the world
where holidays are not tied to capitalism,
where children don’t grow up on diets
of images of what and who they should be
or of what or who they should never deign
to dream of.
An evening walk in the darkest dark
on the longest night in this corner
of the spinning planet that is a speck,
a whirl in the print of some unfathomable
palm holding us but not holding us
reveals so many windows, lights,
leaving me to wonder what it’s really like
on the inside.
Divorce, death, disability —
these interfere with the fantasy of ease
and joy we are supposed to eat
like the fruitcake that one batty aunt
always brings and everyone kind of wonders
is it the same cake from last year
then says, good, good, we’re all fine, great.
It’s worth trying, you might argue,
at least put on a happy face
if you find this time of year oppressive
with its bottomless expectations of giving
and showing up and receiving and making
things pretty. Maybe. Maybe not, like the old
Buddhist story about the boy and the horse
or something like that.
To you without family, to you whose ex
has the kids this year, to you whose adult
children have other plans, to you who wake
every single morning with the ache
of missing, to you who fills the house
with cheer then disappears into the dark,
what can I say? Let’s blow this joint,
get a room, order in, watch old movies,
and burn nostalgia in the fireplace along
with all the wrapping paper.
Or better yet, here. Let me make us some tea.
We can sit here at the table as the solstice
slips by, reminding each other
the light always returns.