Christmas is a magic time, of miracles they say
An’ somethin’ of that sort, I guess, caught me the other day.
Shadows were long, an’ frosty haze, rose from snow-covered plain
As Nate an’ Nell rushed hay sled an’ me homeward, for their grain.
That frozen feed trail snakes us ‘round the head of the breaks,
There where Grandpa’s saggin’ homestead house, causes me heartaches
But wait, can it be? There’s hum of fiddles on the air!
Nate an’ Nell stop. They prick their ears – all I can do is stare!
Grandpa’s house ain’t saggin’. There’s a lantern by the door!
An’ golden light is spillin’ there ‘crost Grandma’s bleached wood floor!
Nate an’ Nell ain’t fonchin’ ‘gainst these lines here in my hand
Fact is, their heads are droopin’, like their eyes are full’a sand!
The kind Ol’ Sandman brought us, when we was little lads,
Keen to sit up on Christmas Eve, just like our mom’s and dad’s;
It seemed like that ol’ Sandman came to me, then an’ there,
As fiddles droned an’ laughter rang, across the cold night air.
Tell me – did he make me sleep, an’ dream of days of yore?
Or was I plumb transported to some distant, mystic shore?
To the joy of Grandma’s kitchen ‘midst their dancin’ glee,
Me, warm behind their wood stove starin’ at their Christmas tree?
Did I listen to the “auld tongue,” music to my ears,
Loving those faces and voices, ‘till I was moved to tears?
Did I watch ‘em dance a schottische see my Grandpa wink?
Did Santa shore slip thru that door – or did I maybe blink?
Did he look me in the eye an’ press a candy cane
Into my hand? Then disappear, so swiftly down the lane
Where Grandma’s yellow roses bloom in each summer’s sun?
Tell me, am I crazy? Or did I really see him run,
And jump quite high, to catch a sleigh, as it left the ground?
If not, then how come these echoes, of jingling sleigh bell’s sound?
Did I watch Grandma, cut and serve, fruitcake by the slice?
Did Grandpa grin, and squeeze her arm, because she served him twice?
Did my ears hear his deep voice, read from that Bible page
The ancient tale of a Virgin’s babe, stepping on the stage
Of Earth – as a helpless infant – manger for a bed,
Tell me was it the words of Luke that my Grandpa read?
While good folk of his neighborhood, stood, with heads bowed low
Some Swede, some Dane, some Norski all close friends, as neighbors go
The Polak in the corner, the Russian by the tree
And ‘crost the room, the Englishman still sipping on his tea?
A gust of wind I seem to wake to stamp of horse’s hoof
When Nate and Nell snort, and move off, I catch a glimpse of roof,
A roof of rotted timbers, all sagging in the mist,
A roof the job of shoring up, ranks highest on my list,
Of things to do for “next year” the one that’s coming soon!
I shake my head and rub my eyes, then stare at Mister Moon,
Who’s risen now from the dark I wonder, did he see?
That golden, lamp-lit cabin, friends, family, the tree?
Here’s our gate “Whoa, Nell and Nate!” I start to wrap the lines,
When something clatters to hay sled floor ? ‘Neath the moon now, shines,
A candy cane white and red yet bigger than today’s!
I raise my eyes I see that Star my heart wells up in praise
Of ancestors and pioneers those who gave us life
Of our great God this great land of our neighbors – man and wife.
Those things bring “Merry Christmas!” to ev’ry hearth and home –
May they richly bless you, and yours, wherever you may roam!
– Rhonda Sedgwick Stearns
Dec. 18, 2007