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A Christmas Past
There's snow blanketing the ground today
Though it's only early November.
I slowly realize
That the holiday season had crept up on us again.
I reach my hand across the bed
Towards a fluffy, green object
Lying propped up against my blankets.
Its shiny black eyes gleam at me
As I hold the silent teddy bear
Close to my body
And we both stare out the frosted window
At the flakes of fluffy crystal
Spiraling downwards from the cold, gray sky.
I hold Max, the green bear, tight
As we both sit and watch the falling snow
Remembering a time long ago
When the weather looked strangely like today’s,
A time that holds an important spot in both our roots...
* * * * *
It was Christmas.
The snow heaps laid thick outside,
Especially around my grandma's shoveled out driveway
Where my family's cars had all parked.
In the warm, glowing atmosphere of my grandma's old house,
I could feel the snow on my little boots melting,
Soaking the bottoms of my pant legs.
But I didn't care.
The first thing I noticed when I walked in was my cousins.
I smiled and ran to them,
Joining in their discussion on what grandma
Could have gotten for us this year.
They led me to the Christmas tree in the living room
And I felt overwhelmed at its size
Yet again this year.
It towered over my small frame
As I craned my neck to stare up to its peak,
Longing to be able to touch the bright star glowing on top.
For a minute, I satisfied myself with holding
Some of the large, glowing lights strung around the tree-
Until I remembered the presents lying cushioned beneath.
But before I could dive into the pile
And move off victoriously with my trophy,
I heard my mother’s voice calling my name.
“Come say hello to grandma…” she said
And I realized suddenly, feeling guilty
That in all the excitement, I had forgotten
To wish grandma a merry Christmas.
Most of the evening was a noisy blur for me now.
I still have memories of my cousins and I
Racing through the house,
Playing hide-and-seek in increasingly creative spots
Among grandma’s ancient furniture.
Then, finally, after much waiting and anticipation,
After a long dinner and boring talk between the adults,
It was finally time to gather around that magnificent tree
And receive grandma’s gift.
I waited on my toes with my cousins
Waiting for our names to be called.
I felt myself growing more and more impatient
With each passing name called,
To the point where I began to fear that grandma
Had forgotten me.
Finally, her aging hand reached down to the last gift wrapped box
And called out the name scrawled on the tag.
It wasn’t for me.
I felt my heart sink deep down into my stomach
And tears sprang to my eyes.
After all that waiting
Grandma really had forgotten about me…
Still seated with the adults by the tree,
Grandma looked over and must have seen my sad expression
Because she called me over to her.
I went to her, my eyes fixed on the floor,
Dragging my boots across the old rug.
“Didn’t I give you yours, dear?” she asked me.
I shook my head slowly, still not meeting her gaze.
“Well, where could yours have gone…?” she asked, sounding confused.
She reached under the tree and lifted up the embroidered skirt
To reveal a lonely red box with a shiny green ribbon hugging the top.
She picked it up with slightly shaking hands,
Read the tag,
And handed it down to me with smiling eyes.
I gasped, wiped away my tears and took the box
From her outstretched palms.
Setting it down on the rug at my feet,
I ran forward and embraced her in a hug,
Doing my best to make my short arms meet behind.
Then, with unspoken words,
I understood I was now allowed to run off to find my cousins
And unwrap my gift.
Some were hidden away in closets,
Possessively clinging to their new toys,
Eyeing the other passing children,
Daring anyone to try and take their gifts.
I settled myself under a desk standing in the corner of one room
And, holding my breath, tugged at the end of the green ribbon,
And lifted up the lid of the brilliant red box
I reached my little hand into the depths of the box
And pulled out an emerald green teddy bear.
I held him in my small palms,
Running my eyes over his fluffy body,
His green bow tie,
His black, shining eyes glinting back at me,
I felt myself smile with approval.
Hugging him to my chest,
I began to run names through my mind…
None of them seemed to fit.
Oh well, I thought,
I’d think of something later...
* * * * *
I smiled down at the inanimate creature,
Thinking about how long it actually took
For him to get his name.
Pulling out my iPod,
I placed one ear bud in his fuzzy ear,
The other in my own,
And we both sat together and listened
To his namesake,
Watching the snow
Fall thick outside...