My sister confided in me that when we were kids
she never really liked Christmas. It always meant
too much scrubbing and bustle, too much cooking,
too big a mess to be got into and then cleaned up after.
The hardwood floors needed to be stripped and waxed
and every nook and cranny got into and cleaned out—
you never know when the priest could drop in (although
truth be known, all that needed was a good liquor cabinet.)
The decorations had to be pulled out, put up, took down,
and every one of grandmother’s dishes and glasses got at,
washed, used, and one (by me, of course, it was always me)
broken each year. And that was just the preparations.
I have grandchildren the age we were then, but when I speak to her,
I am always, again, that baby boy of the family—I never knew,
I never realized. Being younger (and dodgier) on Christmas Day
I was useless, as was our dad, who was exhausted and drunk by noon.
So my memory is different: fun yes, but depressed afterward,
the buildup over, the presents opened, the house put away
and everyone down for a nap, just me awake, wondering
where mom had hidden the chocolates. I still miss those,
even now, when I know just how much they cost.
My sister tells me that my mother’s favorite chocolates were Quality Street. It is a question of some debate in our family as to which came first: whether mom was forced to hide them because I would seek them out where ever they were hidden, or whether I had to take to hunting them because mom had secreted them away. It did not matter, though, since ours was a small house and I knew all of her favorite hiding spots.
The photograph was taken of a barn door on a small farm in Pomfret, CT. To see my photography blog, please visit the Book of Bokeh.
Photograph, poem and notes © 2014 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2014 by John Etheridge, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The photograph is not licensed for use in any way without the expressed consent of its creator.