Post Series: Advent: Poem with an explanation: they kept the day

the pillows changed
from brown to red
the throw from yellow to green

the plants were changed
for evergreens
with berries that could be seen

a chicken cooked
with leaves of sage
and potatoes in a pot

a pie was baked
with orange yams
just the way they had been taught

a drill was bought
a sweater too
both placed within birthday bags

a truck with wheels
a brand new doll
in blue boxes with no tags

the day did come
and none did leave
no words outside were spoken

they kept the day
beneath the lights
so faith would not be broken

 

This poem is about celebrating Christmas in an oppressive society.  The society has rejected Christmas and its observance.  People who observe Christmas are ostracized.  In the poem, a family celebrates Christmas in a hidden way.

The poem sounds nice.  It seems to show a celebration.  In each stanza though, an element of the hidden nature of the celebration is shown.

In the first stanza, the family can’t decorate for Christmas with traditional decorations.  Instead, they change the throw pillows on their sofa from brown to red and change the throw on their sofa from yellow to green.

In the second stanza, the family is afraid to put up a Christmas tree.  Instead they change out their house plants for evergreens with berries.

Rather than cooking a turkey or a ham on Christmas, the family cooks chicken in the third stanza.  They flavor it with sage to get a sense of the traditional taste.  They are fearful of having a big meal, and only cook potatoes as a side.

In the fourth stanza, rather than making a traditional pumpkin pie, the family makes one with yams.  As the oppression has being going on for some time, the recipe is one they had been taught.

In the fifth stanza, the adults buy gifts for one another.  They only buy one each and put them in birthday bags rather than wrapping them with Christmas paper.

In the sixth stanza, the children are bought presents.  Again they get only one each, and they are put in boxes that are blue, which isn’t a Christmas color.

In the seventh stanza, Christmas day comes.  The family does not leave their house to visit relatives or to go to a church service.  When they do see someone they don’t say merry Christmas (no words outside were spoken).

In the eighth stanza, a summary is given of the family’s activities.  They kept the day beneath the lights of oppressive scrutiny in a hidden way so faith would not be broken.

Although modern society isn’t oppressive this way, there are signs of the secularization of Christmas.  Many ads for example reference “holidays” rather than “Christmas”.  The same occurs with company and organizational observances.  There is a “holiday party” rather than a “Christmas” one.

As any belief means something is not believed there will always be those who either disagree with the belief or who don’t feel the belief should be overtly expressed because others might disagree with it.  It is covering over a belief either because of secularization or political correctness.

The poem shows a society that takes this idea to a farther point.  Instead of covering over Christmas, the society feels it is bad.  As some disagree with the Christmas observance, the society has developed a culture of disdaining the observance.  It has gone from Christmas to “Holiday” to nothing to seeing the observance as something negative.  It sees the observance as bad and sees those who participate in the observance as bad as well.

The poem shows a family that tries to observe Christmas under these circumstances.  They try to observe it in a hidden way to keep the tradition but also not to face backlash.

In terms of form, the stanzas have a syllable count of 4-4-7.  The stanzas are in pairs with the last lines of each pair rhyming.

Post series: Advent: Poem: Christmas observance

Sometimes,
when a person looks out,
at how Christmas,
is observed,
it can seem,
a bit disheartening.

More and more,
people say “holidays”,
rather than “Christmas”. (Have you seen ads lately?)

Christmas specials,
although they might be special,
can often seem,
to have too little Christmas in them.

Everything,
can seem,
to be about shopping,
and decorating,
and running about,
like Christmas is a verb,
and some sort of expectation,
you are supposed to meet.

It is like,
society invented a festival,
and if you don’t do all the things,
you’ll be missing out.

Instead of feeling bad though,
or complaining,
or writing long social media posts,
maybe,
it would be better,
to just observe Christmas,
in a better way,
yourself.

Maybe,
by doing things,
like giving to the poor,
volunteering,
praying,
reading the Bible,
going to church services,
being kind,
and reflecting,
on the purpose of all of this,
you can feel a little different.

Maybe,
by observing Christmas,
in a better way,
you can have more,
of an impact,
on how others observe it.

Maybe,
the best way,
to change things,
is to start,
with yourself.

Understand though,
this isn’t a criticism,
it isn’t,
the opposite,
of what these words,
purpose.

Rather,
hopefully it’s something,
that can help you,
to less see something as bad,
and rather,
focus instead,
on doing something good.

Post series: Advent: Poem: The Christmas Stone

One year
she received
a polished stone
as gift
for Christmas.

Though
it looked nice
and was smooth
and shined
it did seem
kind of pointless.

Who would send a stone?
Why would they send it?
What was she supposed to do with it?

Not understanding
she kept it though
and put it on the mantle
beside a clock.

Time passed
and years passed
and every so often
she would dust the mantle
and clean the stone.

It still
looked nice
and was smooth
and shined
but still
it seemed
without purpose.

On a Christmas day
her sister came
and with her she brought
a small girl.

Small
and quiet
and five years old
she did not talk
and had not ever.

Carrying the girl
in her arms
she showed her the tree
the lights that glowed
and the ornaments.

She walked around
and showed her garland
and nutcrackers
and little trees.

Coming to the mantle
she showed her the clock
and the candles
and then the small stone.

The girl looked
and held the stone
in her small hand
and gazed at it
with small brown eyes.

She told the girl
it was a special stone
a Christmas stone
and that it came
from far away.

She said it was special
because it was a gift
that was meant to last
for a long time.

She said it was special
because of the time
and all it took
for the stone to be there.

She said it was special
because it was a gift
sent especially to her.

The small girl gazed
and looked at the stone
and seemed to marvel
at the colors it contained.

Then she said
that if the girl wanted
the stone could be hers
as a Christmas gift.

The girl looked up
with small brown eyes
and with a smile
she nodded her head.

She set the girl down
and she scurried to a chair
sat in a ball
and looked at the stone.

Minute after minute
and for more than an hour
she felt its surface
and looked at its colors

The woman then came
beside the girl
and said to her
that there was something else
about the stone
the girl should know.

The girl looked up
and with her eyes
asked what it was.

She told the girl
it was a story stone
and with it
amazing stories
could be told.

She said the girl
could think of the stone
like a gem in princess’s necklace.

She said it could be
a special key
that could open a secret door.

She said it could be
something from space
that fell from a star
that passed by.

She said it could be
whatever the girl wanted
and that with it
the girl could tell
so many stories.

The girl looked at the stone
as her eyes grew wide
and she scurried away
to another room.

An hour later
the girl returned
and held a paper
in her hand.

It had a cat
with a collar
with a gem that dangled
from a loop.

From the gem
yellow lines came out.

Away from the cat
was girl
who looked like the one
with the brown eyes.

The girl pointed to drawing
pointed to the girl
pointed to the cat
pointed to gem
and moved her finger
from along the yellow lines
to the girl on the paper.

Looking down
the woman thought
and then asked
if the girl
found the cat
who was lost
because the stone
shined in the sun.

The girl smiled
and nodded
and clapped her hands.

Though not a word
this was a start
and the woman thanked in her mind
whoever had sent
the Christmas stone.

She resolved in herself
to send one too
hoping it also
would bring some joy.

Post Series: Advent: Poem with an explanation: Christmas gift ideas

Are you having a difficult time thinking of Christmas gifts to buy for the people in your life?  The following poem can help.  It provides (in poem form) eleven categories of gifts that you can use to come up with ideas.  (After the poem, the gift categories are laid out more explicitly.  That is what makes this a poem with an explanation.)

The first gift,
is really as basic,
as the food you eat.

The second gift,
like the first,
is consumed,
but in a different way.

The third gift,
is the standard,
upon the person’s flag.

The fourth gift,
should be interesting.

The fifth gift,
eventful.

The sixth gift,
should express a sentiment.

The seventh gift,
follows money.

The eight gift,
fulfills a request.

The ninth gift,
requires action.

The tenth gift,
comes from the hands.

The eleventh gift,
takes things to a new level.

 

Each stanza above expresses a gift category that you can use to think of a gift to buy a person.

The first gift category is food.  Food makes an excellent gift because everyone eats and it is easy to get something gourmet or something in a fancy package that can make something simple be more like a gift.

The second gift is that of a consumable.  A consumable is something a person uses up.  This could be anything from office supplies to things for their pet.  The idea is to buy a person something they use up on a regular basis.

The third gift is a standard gift.  A standard gift can fit a gender or a profession.  As an example, some standard gifts for men might be: ties, shoes, suits, briefcases, tools, sports items, outdoor items, shaving items, cologne, car items, and grilling items.

The fourth gift is something related to an interest a person has.  For example, if a person likes golf, some gifts might be: golf balls, golf tees, golf clothes, golf gloves, golf bags, golf lessons, and golf clubs.

The fifth gift is an event.  Rather than giving a person a thing, you can give them an experience.  This could be something like tickets to a sporting event or paying for them to take a class.

The sixth gift is something sentimental.  This could be something personalized with the person’s name, something with an image important to the person, or something from the person’s past.

The seventh gift is to buy a person something they buy themselves.  The idea here is that if a person buys something, they like it.  If you buy them something similar, they might like it too.

The eighth gift is to buy a person something they asked for.  A person might have explicitly said they wanted something, or they may have mentioned it or an idea related to it in passing.

The ninth gift is to do something for a person.  This could be something like mowing their lawn or fixing something they have that is broken.

The tenth gift is to give the person something you make.  This could be anything from cookies, to a scarf, to furniture.

The eleventh gift is to upgrade something a person has.  You can buy a person a better version of something they already own.

These categories cover just something things you could buy a person as a Christmas gift.  There are of course more.  These are just a starting point that you can use if you have trouble thinking of what to buy a person.

As a side note, if you know someone who likes poetry, you might consider buying them M. Sakran’s published collection of poetry, First Try.  It contains poems on a variety of topics.  Someone who likes poetry could enjoy it. (It would also make M. Sakran quite happy if you gave someone the collection as a gift.)

Post Series: Advent: Poetry topic idea: snowmen

Today’s poetry topic idea is snowmen.  Snowmen are sometimes made by people during this time of year.  There are a number of ideas about snowmen that can be applied to poetry.

For example, snowmen might make a poet think about ideas of temporariness, transience, or mortality.  A snowman is a temporary thing.  At some point, it will melt away.  This idea can have significance.

Another idea that can come from snowmen, is the idea of fragility.  Although a snowman can look substantial, it is actually very fragile.  A small amount of force can damage it.  This notion of looking strong but being weak can be applied to other things.

As a third idea, snowmen could remind a poet of a sentry or a guard.  A snowman stays where it is put and appears to watch.  This notion of guarding could be applied to other things.

Here is an example poem using the idea of snowmen:

the child
made snowmen
in place of those
who would not be there
that Christmas

Post Series: Advent: Poem with an explanation: and waiting alone

making the list
ordering online
receiving the boxes
wrapping them
putting the tags
leaving part blank
putting them under the tree
and waiting alone

 

In this poem a lonely person buys themselves Christmas gifts.  The person goes through steps.  They make a list of what they want, they order the gifts online, they receive the boxes, and they wrap them.  When the person puts name tags on the gifts they leave the “From” blank.  They are afraid that if someone does happen come by that they will see that they bought gifts for themselves.  They don’t want this to happen, so they leave the “From” blank so it will look like they received the gifts.  They then put the gifts under their Christmas tree and they wait alone until Christmas to unwrap them.

This poem shows a lonely person trying to have some feeling of the holiday.  They could have bought themselves things and just had them, but they decided to wrap the items to feel like they got gifts.

The person is self-conscious of their behavior though and hides what they are doing to a degree by leaving the “From” spaces blank on the tags.  This is for the reason mentioned above, but also because the person just feels lonelier when they acknowledge what they are doing.  Not having the “From” helps them to ignore their reality some.

As an aside, if any readers know anyone who might be spending Christmas alone this year, do something for them.  Send them an email.  Send a note on social media.  Send a card.  Send a gift.  If possible, see if the person wants to visit you on Christmas if that is possible.  Help the person not have the circumstances in the poem.

Post Series: Advent: Poem with an explanation: the gift was seen

seemingly thoughtless
and seemingly cheap
harsh words were spoken
on the bright morning

with reluctance
the ladder was climbed

summer nights
the bird did call
and in the yard
in the panic
the gift was seen

 

In this poem a person gets a gift that they don’t like that later proves to be important.

In the poem a person gives another person a smoke alarm as a Christmas present.  The receiver of the gift thinks it is a bad gift.  They see it as thoughtless and cheap.  They say harsh words to the giver of the gift on Christmas morning (the bright morning).

After some time, reluctantly, the receiver of the gift installs the smoke alarm (the ladder was climbed).

During the following summer the smoke alarm goes off at night as the house the receiver is in catches on fire (the bird did call).  They are awoken by the alarm and run out into their yard panicking.  At that moment, as their house is burning but their life was saved, they see the value of the gift they were given (their life) (the gift was seen).