the pillows changed
from brown to red
the throw from yellow to green
the plants were changed
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.