Thursday, December 6, 2012

“December” by James Schuyler

Il va neiger dans quelques jours FRANCIS JAMMES
The giant Norway spruce from Podunk, its lower branches bound,
this morning was reared into place at Rockefeller Center.
I thought I saw a cold blue dusty light sough in its boughs
the way other years the wind thrashing at the giant ornaments
recalled other years and Christmas trees more homey.
Each December! I always think I hate “the over-commercialized event”
and then bells ring, or tiny light bulbs wink above the entrance
to Bonwit Teller or Katherine going on five wants to look at all
the empty sample gift-wrapped boxes up Fifth Avenue in swank shops
and how can I help falling in love? A calm secret exultation
of the spirit that tastes like Sealtest eggnog, made from milk solids,
Vanillin, artificial rum flavoring; a milky impulse to kiss and be friends
It’s like what George and I were talking about, the East West
Coast divide: Californians need to do a thing to enjoy it.
A smile in the street may be loads! you don’t have to undress everybody.
                                    “You didn’t visit the Alps?”
                                    “No, but I saw from the train they were black
                                    and streaked with snow.”
Having and giving but also catching glimpses
hints that are revelations: to have been so happy is a promise
and if it isn’t kept that doesn’t matter. It may snow
falling softly on lashes of eyes you love and a cold cheek
grow warm next to your own in hushed dark familial December.
How many  of us have felt this way? A bit jaded about the holiday. Why not? I mean everyone else is so over the top. At least on TV or at the Target down the street. You almost feel like going to sleep and waking up in January--or spring--or in the Bahamas.

You might not start out this way. After a long drought and an even longer Recession, you may be ready for a chance to celebrate. But, soon, all the stress, the time constraints, the never-ending parties, all the eating, and requests for donations, cookies, cupcakes, and loud television ads, and annoying Facebook pop-ups, the incredible traffic at the mall, the broken ornaments,
and prickly pine needles, e-mail newsletters from old friends that always start off with all the fantastic things happening in their life: the trips, the kids, the graduations, the new jobs--and soon you feel like a total mess. And, on top, of that, you may be by yourself. You've lost both parents, your son or daughter isn't on speaking terms anymore, the divorce has separated you from the grandkids, and the few friends you still occasionally see are ill or struggling with health issues. Or voted Republican and can no longer abide the sight of you--after so many years. 

Yet. Even though--the weather is not cooperating and the mail doesn't bring cards and the stupid radio won't stop playing Rock'n Around the Christmas Tree and now it loops inside your head--you hear a faint pealing and look up and the bells at Saint Mary of the Lake are ringing and the pine tar smell of Christmas trees drifts over from the corner lot where old guys are hanging out and warming their fingerless gloved hands over a burning trash barrel, and for a brief moment your heart quickens and the Christmas spirit ever-so faint begins to flicker. 

You might return to disappointment, to kicking the radio down the stairs, to overeating without satisfaction. But, you will remember and know that underneath all the hype and the jingoistic Reason for the Season that hope indeed did come into the world.


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