Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Ghost of Christmas Past

Some poetry sticks in our minds. Hopefully, it is good poetry, which is the most memorable.  

I have never forgotten rhyming couplets from my long ago childhood. They would not make the good poetry list, but they come unsummoned  to haunt me around this time of year, when we are susceptible to memories of Christmases past…happy memories, painful ones and some a little weird. ’Tis the season of jolly bells and Scrooge rattling his chains.

The first graders in the Catholic School I attended were part of the annual Christmas pageant. We stood dutifully in our various homemade Christmas-appropriate costumes (shepherds, kings, angels), each holding a letter in front of us. We strung ourselves across the stage spelling out Merry Christmas. The good but rushed nuns made up letter-specific rhyming couplets for us each to recite.  My letter, which I held in front of my tinsel-belted, white sheet angel costume was the Y in Merry.  When my turn came, I recited my couplet from memory, in what I'm sure was a less than angelic voice. “Y is for Yuletide which we keep every year. May Christ be its center as it approaches more near.”

Oh my! The nuns who drilled correct grammar into our young brains every day must have been desperate as the Christmas play approached.  If we had said more near instead of nearer within their earshot, we would have received a firm correction. But there it came…tumbling from my lips without a ripple of disapproval.

At this time of year this couplet sneaks back into my consciousness at odd moments, along with a vision of myself as a six year old angel. I cheerfully give up any analysis and look to the meaning of the message. Let Christmas and all the other holidays celebrated around this time of year remind us to take ourselves out of the center of things and focus on others.  Don’t worry about getting everything just right.  Give yourself poetic license to move more near to what is meaningful.  Offer as much loving kindness and compassion as you are able to the other people who touch your life.  Merry Christmas.