Micropoetry Monday: Twisted Christmas

B&W Bad Bunny.png

Cracked Christmas

When Rachel Larsen was awakened
one smoggy, Christmas Eve night
by a conductor of an air & noise polluter,
she boarded The Solar Express
renamed to keep the EPA off their backs.
When little Rachel reached Santytown,
having shared chai tea & gluten-free crumpets
with the other ragamuffins,
she saw all the toy factories
belching carbon dioxide like a charcoal grill;
she had a vision of the ice caps melting
at the The North Pole
so that The Solar Express
had to become a monorail
to navigate over the rising sea levels;
she envisioned Santa and his “little finds,”
moving from a cave to a Jetson-style house,
for the land below had become
too polluted to even harvest
all the plastic from the ocean
to recycle into plastic toys.

Fractured Fable

Santa Claus was the happily drunken,
gelatinous taskmaster,
who was productive but once a year,
his disgruntled elves having done all
the real work
but forced to stamp “Made in China”
on their handiwork.
When Santa found Rudolph,
the ne’er-do-weller North Pole pub dweller,
& praised the boozer for his snoot—
cherry-red from pint after pint of snootfuls—
the other reindeer,
willing to show him the 12 steps,
welcomed him with open antlers.
However, after Rudy continuously
made an icehole of himself
at every G-rated reindeer game—
trying to impress nonexistent female reindeer
(save Cupid, who had shot herself with an arrow
& was in love only with herself)—
the other reindeer,
fearful of an FWI (flying while intoxicated),
made sure that “Ruddy”
went down in history
by making him history.

Cranky Christmas

When he was a young’un,
he’d watched his momma kiss Santy Claus;
when he grew up,
he’d watched her kill Santy Claus
for runnin’ Granny over with a John Deere,
marking Bama Montgomery’s last Christmas in Dixie.
This son of a sawed-off shotgun,
whose child support had come
in the form of recalled toys
that had washed up on Misfit Island—
which had been a “Dirty Santa” thing to do—
knew what he had to do.
But, rather than throw Momma from The Polar Express,
he threw her under the city bus
& staked his claim (courtesy of ancestry.com)
to the snow-white tundra & its 70, pointy-eared dwarves,
where he was stuck making crappy toys for Beall’s
& dreaming of a green Christmas.

Family Christmas parties, Dirty Santa, and the art of regifting

Shrimper

Every year, my husband’s family has a Dirty Santa Christmas party. There’s the pepperoni bread that all the teenagers love, the Bisquick sausage and cheese balls that are like savory truffles, and the peanut butter balls that take an insane amount of powdered sugar to make. When my husband’s aunt was alive, it was an Italian feast, even though she was from Maine and of French heritage. (My husband’s father, however, was Italian.)  

I don’t even bring food anymore because there is so damn much, and there are always too many desserts.

My brother-in-law (BIL) works for a liquor distributor, so there’s always plenty of boozea must-have for any holiday gathering where you’re seeing people you only see once a year and only because you happen to be related. 

As an introvert with social anxiety that I happen to hide very well (unless I’m around someone I think is hot or who I swear is laughing at me on the inside, which is sometimes the same person), I’m not a fan of parties with lots of people I don’t know well. It’s emotionally exhausting, but my six-year-old daughter is an excellent buffer.    

As I am not friends with any of my husband’s family on Facebook, and my husband ditched his account last year, we’re like the black sheep (my husband likes to call himself the stray sheep) of his family; in my family, I’m like the golden fleece, so think what you will about that!  

I cannot compete with my husband’s successful sisters, whose careers have been established for years, while I’m just figuring things out. Their kids are either grown or practically grown, whereas my daughter is in the first grade, and I am working on my bachelor’s degree at 38. I guess my husband and I are both late bloomers.  

So, “Dirty Santa” is always my favorite part of the party. I don’t have to mill around and mingle, as we are all sitting in a circle, opening presents. Honestly, gift giving is a lot more fun when it doesn’t cost anything, and it’s all in fun—when you don’t give a rip about what you’re going to get because you already know it’s probably going to suck.

The year I was into couponing, I tossed some Maxi pads (with wings; it isn’t an angel in need if it doesn’t have wings) in a gently used gift bag. That might have been the year I threw in a Bing Crosby CD in which he dreamily crooned about white Christmases (what the hell is wrong with a green Christmas where we don’t have to worry about dying in a blizzard?). So yes, sanitary napkins + Bing = a hard candy Christmas. 

Another year, I gave away some DVDs when a lot of the same movies I could just DVR (I will never, however, ever part with my Wings and I Love Lucy collection). Last year, I threw in some unused candles (from my candle collecting days), and this year, there’s “The Shrimper”a running gag that’s been passed around my husband’s family for years. I don’t mind getting stuck with it, as I am the queen of regifting. Most of the gifts probably end up donated or regifted anyway; I am not spending money on a nice gift so I can get a bobo present. A good third of Dirty Santa gifts were left behind last year, which, to me, shows a complete lack of regard for the hosts, who have to figure out how to (probably) dispose of them.

Since I have run out of things to regift (ain’t minimalism great?), I thank God for “The Shrimper,” as it’s recurrence keeps another item out of the landfill.

Driving Through the South on Christmas Eve

Pine and holly.jpg

Through the snow-sprayed window I see,
a Christmas tree—white, blue, and beachy;
seashells, starfish and sand dollars adorn,
shiny packages atop a white shag skirt well-worn.

The porch light is on and carolers come in shorts,
standing on the stoop in flip-flops—a casual sort;
holiday movies are playing in the living room,
Christmas lights twinkling to dispel the twilight gloom.

A lady in a sundress and sandals opens the door,
calling her husband and children away from the décor.
Candles rather than logs glow in the fireplace,
while stockings with names does the mantle grace.

Marshmallows swirling in hot chocolate bliss,
bring warmth to the silvery winter solstice;
the hydrangeas and azalea blooms will be here soon,
but in the meantime, the festivities brighten the dark afternoon.

The bells of St. Luke’s toll in the steeple bower,
as do the bells from the college clock tower;
at the Mount of Olives church, a wonderland of white lights,
shine like ten thousand halos—a billion stars burning bright.

Choirs of young schoolchildren sing in rows,
paper snowflakes completing the wintry tableau,
whilst older children perform A Christmas Carol,
donning their turn of the last century apparel.

The streets glisten with neither sleet nor snow,
but with the reflection of lights and candle glow;
a mist has imbued the balmy, breezy air,
silhouetting the trees, their branches bare.

The beauty of the beach is pristine and clear,
for ‘tis deserted this Yuletide time of year;
standing on a dune is a snowman with eyes of charcoal,
made of white sugar sand, and a conch for a nose.

Families fill polished, wooden pews for Midnight Mass,
moonlight shining through windows of stained glass,
their faces patterned like a fragmented kaleidoscope—
with the colors of awe, wonder, peace, love, joy and hope.

Strains of “Silent Night” sung in German,
followed by a Christmas sermon,
swell the hallowed, high-ceilinged space,
for surely, His presence is in this place.

Punch cups of eggnog, laced with cherry brandy,
complement a plate of pecan divinity candy.
Santa will be sated and the kids will vigil keep,
with miles of sheep to count before they sleep.

There are no sleds, or snow that blankets the ground,
nor heavy coats or scarves or boots, or days snowbound;
but Christmas here in this little town in southern parts,
is every bit as real and wonderful as those in Yankee hearts.

 

Micropoetry Monday: Opposites

Opposites

The Shutterfly edition

He was a team player,
who enjoyed watching
a bunch of men
running around with numbers
on their backs,
throwing what looked like a
misshapen Hostess cupcake
through the air.
She was a team of 1,
who wrote & edited
her own stories,
for there wasn’t always
someone there
to read them.
And to keep the peace,
he agreed to never make her watch,
while she agreed to never make him read.

He was a purveyor of magic tricks,
she, of magic treats.
When they crossed one another’s paths
at a Halloween party
like a pair of black cats,
they became unlucky in love,
for she found out that his tricks
were nothing but an illusion,
& he,
that her treats were flavor-enhanced with MSG.

He loved secular holiday tunes,
she, spiritual Christmas carols,
for she saw Christmas as a holy day,
& he, a holiday.
For him,
the lists were naughty & nice,
based on words & deeds;
for her,
the lists were Heaven or Hell,
based on belief.
Even though they would forever
disagree on everything else,
they could agree that
whatever the reason
for the season,
kindness should be
the universal code of conduct.

#Fiction Friday: #Novelines from the Book

mormoni

The hot chocolate that tasted like dirt wasn’t enough to steam away the winter chill that blew through the holes in our tights & openings in our scarves as we went a-caroling among the leaves so green.

We took the presence of a Nativity scene as an indication of a safe house, a friendly home, and we caroled our way through Christendom.

The glow from the tree gave the illusion of a gloriole, and it was to Mother’s light that the missionary angels were drawn.

Machines had kept my father alive, & I wondered if he was in purgatory, between 2 worlds, knowing if that machine malfunctioned, it would be the end of both his lives.

David’s allegiance to my mother hurt more than her deception; he was a beautiful accessory to her crime.

The Church admonished its members to be honest in all their dealings with their fellow man, & so I wondered about Abraham, lying about Sarah.

I had once believed in total autonomy—until I’d read the story of Pharaoh & how God had hardened His heart to bring about His purpose.

Removing Patrick from life support was in Mother’s best convenience, just as choosing not to abort Caitlin had been against hers.  Perhaps she’d seen forsaking her life in the servitude of motherhood as penance for destroying Patrick’s.

 

#Fiction Friday: #Micropoetry from the Book

Mormoni

Mother didn’t say “Thank you”
but “Bless you.”
She hadn’t even said that when someone sneezed,
thinking it silly.
Her whole lexicon had changed.
God was no longer God
but Heavenly Father.
The Pope was just a leader,
but the Prophet was God’s mouthpiece,
& the word prophetess did not exist.

My mother’s life had been lived in reverse–
she had spent it atoning for David’s sin,
& now,
it was time for her ministry.

Mother & I prayed together,
Caitlin & I laughed together,
but David & I mourned together.
It was the saddest of the 3
that seemed to bring people together,
even if it didn’t keep them together.

Our Christmas tree was like something out of a magazine,
the Suttons’, like something out of an awkward family photo,
& yet, there was something about it that warmed me,
even as ours left me cold.

For it was because of me he stayed,
& because of her, he would go.
To wish for him as mine
seemed a form of matricide.

#Fiction Friday: #Novelines from the Book

Mormoni

Catholicism was the older sister of Mormonism: The Catholics had their pure nuns, touched by none, the Mormons their women, touched by one.

David’s face was bathed in beams of light, looking like one of those angels on Christmas cards. It was his face that eclipsed the moon. My eyes were at half-mast, I felt drunk as if with strong wine. I was the hypnotist’s stepdaughter, mesmerized by eyes rather than a pocket watch.

I called God as my witness that night at St. Mary’s, that David & I would be static characters in the dynamic play we were being written in.

Though we were all invited—we could not enter heaven unless we brought the temple recommend, or invitation— which is how Brother Wiley put it.

The man I thought was Jesus told me He’d been waiting for me all my life, & led me up the aisle like a bridegroom—the moonlight, my veil.

“I am who I am,” the figure said, & when I entered his arms, the smell of sweet spices permeated my being, & I was in a euphoric state, awash in a wave of an ecstasy I hadn’t known existed.  My breathing had become shallow, my heart beat faster, & I cried out, “Oh, God!”, & awoke in David’s embrace.

The scent of the man David was like incense to my soul. I breathed him in. There was a very visceral part of me that wanted to take him in.

This rapture didn’t spirit me up to Heaven, but rather, gave me a sense of belonging on earth I had never felt before.

I ask not for signs and wonders from You, God, but I will accept that You do, indeed, exist, and that Thou lovest me.  Through faith alone, I will believe.  That was my Doubting Thomasina prayer.

 

#Fiction Friday: #Novelines from the Book

Mormoni

It had always been David who had made our house the kind of home the Church said a home should be—the second most sacred space, next to the temple.

“For where two or three are gathered in My Name, there am I in the midst of them,” Jesus had said, & so, the Mormon missionaries paired off like Noah’s Ark, except in a sexless, same-sex fashion.

His faith had been proven—his sacrifice hadn’t required the forsaking of his own life—only the forsaking of a chance at a life with me.

David appreciated the natural world as much as Mother & Caitlin did the spiritual, whereas I was caught somewhere between the two.

Man had been given dominion over all earthly creations (rather than God, who had dominion over all the heavenly ones).

Though we were surrounded by people, we were the only two people in our world—in the world, but not of it.

I sensed a change in my & David’s relationship, but I could not define it. It had matured. I was no longer his stepdaughter—I was his equal.

Christmas in the Deep South was twinkling lights for snowflakes, spray-on snow on windowpanes, & the Hallmark yule log flickering on a screen.

#Fiction Friday: #Novelines from the Book

Mormoni

Life as a Mormon had a sameness to it—a consistency I found comforting. A part of me felt I had come into the world belonging to the Church.

My friends in the Church had had a life prior to Mormonism, & so a part of me wondered if the Church was simply a gathering place for like minds to meet.

“Only the true Church would tell you to go to the Source, instead of asking you to take their word for it,” was Mother’s testimony.

There was going to be a talent show at the ward Christmas party, & it was then I looked in myself & saw I was but a consumer of talent.

My mother had become, in many of the brethren’s eyes, a woman of great piety—a saint—but not in the Catholic way.

Mother had dethroned Sister Wiley with her lowly humility to become God’s Royal Highness.  To be a queen, she had to first be a servant.

Sister Wiley’s star was dimming, even as Mother’s was burning brighter, becoming a red giant. The Church was a black hole swallowing her up, turning her into one, for no light could escape her.

Caitlin had woven herself into the fabric of the squares with the Green Haven Ward, sometimes keeping us in stitches.

It’s the Little Things (That Make Life Good)

Siggy

Chocolate milk moustaches & the sound a straw makes when you’ve sucked it good to the last drop

The chocolate nugget at the bottom of a Drumstick sundae cone

Waking up to the aromas of bacon & coffee

Paper newspapers & excursions to the bookstore

The smell of matches after they’ve been struck, birthday candles after they’ve been blown out

The experience of ripping paper off a present rather than pulling it out of a bag

Front doors with glass that let the light in, open windows on a nice day

Non-committal sweaters (i.e., not pullovers) & clothes without zippers

The non-committal semicolon, the amazing em-dash, & the cute little ampersand

Clever epitaphs & witty puns

2 spaces after a period (because you can)

Cursive writing & typewriter font

Whiteboards for practical use, chalkboards for decorative

Long, luxurious lavender bubble baths

Lady Stetson & Prell

Non-sitting cardio machines

Roller skates you can strap to your existing shoe

Real bicycles that take you places

Mint-green Mini Coopers

TV shows that aren’t set in Chicago, New York, or Los Angeles (or any other big city)

Bright lipstick with shiny lip gloss

Clothes that don’t have to be dry-cleaned

No-sew sewing projects

Truffle making

Retro kitchens with modern appliances

Willow Tree nativity scenes & Precious Moments snow globes

The Hallmark Yule log with the dog & cat in front of the fireplace and classic Christmas music playing in the background

I Love Lucy—an allegory of the American Dream

Humor, because life is serious

Updated 1/17/2020