MIDWEEK POETRY: Memories of Christmas Past.

I have few fond memories of Xmas, not because of a lack of gifts or food. There just seems to be something sad and unsettling about it for me. The toys I received in this poem when I was seven were gladly accepted, I didn’t complain at all. There were times when Spam was meat of the day, it didn’t matter. Even though we lived in the north of England I only remember one white Xmas day. My favourite Xmas was when my son sat on the floor and watched as we decorated his first tree. I never spoiled him although he received nice presents and never went without. In the weeks leading up to Xmas I feel a great sadness descending, an aura of gloom envelopes me. When I hear Silent Night being sung I can’t stop the tears. Definitely a sad state of affairs. I do hope you enjoy the poem.

Memories of Christmas Past.

Silvery moonlight on window pane.
I’m wishing for snow, we’ll get rain.
Coal smoke from chimneys near and far
hides the brilliant Christmas star.

Waiting  on the landing, trembling, cold
what will this Christmas morn unfold.
Standing quietly at the parlour door,
reflections of firelight on polished floor.

The day brings good cheer and delight,
baubles on tree, reflecting, bright.
This year, no cold hearth mocking.
Instead, there hangs a bulging stocking.

A grey school sock I used to wear
filled with an orange, plums and a pear.
Pulling out sweets I reach right down
it must be Christmas, there’s half a crown.

A pillowcase sits beneath the tree
full of presents, all for me.
Cast-offs from a cousin, I’ve never met,
tin toy cars and a meccano set.

The years since I’ve seen better, and worse.
Some were a blessing, others a curse.
They’ve come and gone and years go by.
Yet, as each appears I sit and cry.

Laurie Smith© 2013

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43 thoughts on “MIDWEEK POETRY: Memories of Christmas Past.

  1. WordsFallFromMyEyes

    Wow, Laurie, this is so well written. I can imagine the grey sock, the crown, & know about fruit being a gift (dad gave me a bag of sultanas for my birthday once – he loved sultanas).

    Christmas isn’t great for me either, believe me. I guess we just come from not the right raising for it to be all the deal its meant to be. I did have generous cousins though, when we went there, the gifts – some good memories there.

    Spam as meat of the day… Laurie, this is really evocative.

    ~ Merry Christmas ~ I just pray for sunshine, I do! 🙂

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    1. laurie27wsmith Post author

      Fruit was a real treat as a kid in England. I never ate a banana until I was eight. I can bypass the day completely. Yep, spam. It used to taste okay. 🙂 As long as it’s warm Noeleen. 🙂

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  2. patgarcia

    Hi Bro,
    That is a beautiful poem, and it awakens in me Christmases gone by. I have many happy memories of Christmas, not because we had plenty, but because what we did have meant so much to us kids. I honestly believe I believed in Santa Claus until I was nine years old. I just wanted him to be real. Therefore, it was tragic to me when I found out that he wasn’t real in the sense that I knew him.

    As for your tears on Christmas, I can understand those tears also. Living in a foreign country, far away from relatives and most of my dearest friends, whom I consider family, I too get teary during Christmas. I have come to realize that the joy of Christmas is not only loving people but learning how to receive the love that comes back at you.

    Love you, Bro.

    Shalom,
    Patti

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    1. laurie27wsmith Post author

      Hi Sis, I too was extremely disappointed when I found out that father Christmas was a lie. My view is it sets the tone for lies as children get older. Parents lie about this legendary figure and tell more lies when the kids don’t get what they want. 😦 Not all of my tears are for the departed Sis, there is something missing in my memories. A shadow of it is there and when the carols start something stirs and I cry.
      Love from your
      Bro.

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  3. Pagadan

    Laurie, I hope you enjoyed your Meccano set. Thanks for the illustration. I have good memories of Christmases past, including snow, because my parents worked hard to give us what they could. Mom stayed up late making things, Dad repainted an old bike, etc. And, of course, clothes. Mom gave me undies up to the end.

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    1. laurie27wsmith Post author

      Hi Joy, yes I enjoyed that meccano set though I realised I’d never be an engineer. 🙂 We received the best they could afford, we were fed and at the end of the day I’m still here. I missed out on the undies, don’t tell anybody but I had to wear my older sister’s hand me downs. A tad embarrassing when they were pink. True.

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  4. Owls and Orchids

    Laurie, you manage to hit home and hit hard. There are so many who feel this emptiness, sadness and despair around the Christmas season for so many different reasons.
    It always makes me wonder how many are in the same situation you were in, or indeed, my situation which was vastly different, albeit still painful. Pain is and always will be one of the stronger emotions, like love and hate.
    You certainly have a way of evoking a lot of thought… not always good, yet that’s how we grow, isn’t it?
    Thanks for the incredible talent, even if it is brought about through pain and sadness. I hope you can find some peace this year.
    Love, Susan xox

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    1. laurie27wsmith Post author

      Hi Susan, it is surprising how many feel sad and low over this time. I think it’s the pressure to be happy that affects many. As you well know pain can evoke many reactions and memories. I like evoking feelings in people with my writing, laughter, tears, sadness etc. Then when people see that others can make it through what life dishes out then hopefully they’re inspired. I know many people don’t like to think about events but you can’t grow and learn, if you don’t look at what went wrong/right. I doubt that I’ll regain whatever it was that I lost about xmas Susan. What I will do is what I’ve done for years, and fake it. 🙂
      Laurie. xx

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  5. eightdecades

    I have seen Christmas 69 times.. there are sad ones and happier ones, But each year I look forward with delight and expectations, Not for gifts,not gratifications, but because it makes me have memories, even the sad ones are a gift. My wife of 46 years says “happiness is a choice, choose it” This I have learned, if Christmas makes you sad, be glad you can feel that, for it is the complexity of life that brings emotions, a lesser creature would not cry at Christmas.
    Merry Christmas to you all.. I liked your poem, it brought back memories and that is a good thing, you helped me be more than a lesser creature.

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    1. laurie27wsmith Post author

      Hi John, thanks for coming over and commenting. I feel better now, I’m on my 62nd one with a birthday 2 days after. You know it’s not the good and bad, happy or sad I get through them. It’s a sense of gloom that descends on me. Sitting here something came to mind about my birthday. My mum went into labour with me on xmas eve while she was making fruit mince tarts. I popped into the world with the cord around my neck half an hour into the day after boxing day. A long labour indeed, it took them half an hour to get me breathing on my own. Now every year around xmas mum would belabour me with the fact that I ruined her xmas day etc. Then the born dead would come up. Hmm, not a happy thing to hear year in year out. Now the happiest childhood xmas occurred on the voyage to Australia in 1960. I woke up early and my present had been put at the foot of my bunk. Getting dressed quietly, hard to do with 5 in a small cabin, I raced upstairs to the rear deck. This was where they held parties etc. The Indian ocean stretched out flat as glass, and a thick mist hung down over the ship. A girl my age sat on a bench against the stern rail. I sat next to her and we opened our presents. She had a doll and mine was an etcher sketcher. The biggest present came with the arrival of four flying fish landing on the deck at our feet. About a foot long they glistened, their scales going from silver to multi-coloured as they flipped and twitched. Now that was a present indeed and one I will carry for the rest of my days.
      Have a great xmas John and I hope all goes well for you and yours in the new year. I’m happy that I helped you be more than a lesser creature.
      Cheers
      Laurie.

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      1. eightdecades

        Thank you for the reply as well. I was a Thanksgiving baby, guess being born on a Holiday has it’s own cycle of life. I was the family turkey I guess. Ha. well I hope your Christmas this year can find some joy with the memories.
        Best tidings

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      2. laurie27wsmith Post author

        I have an image of a little baby John with those white paper thingys on his ankles that they put on turkey legs. 🙂 Mate it could have been worse, there is always Easter. Thanks, I’ll do my best.
        Cheers
        Laurie

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  6. nataliescarberry

    What can I say, Laurie. You story is so touching and raw. Before I could even consider responding, I sat and cried. I used to love Christmas and then all the commercial perversion of what it’s supposed to be about began to weigh heavily on my heart. I led such a sheltered life, for the most part, as a child and teenager that I mistakenly assumed all families were more or less the same. Time and exposure have taught me that this is simply not true. The only thing I really enjoy now is the Christmas Eve candlelight service at church. Like you, I cry all the way through Silent Night because now I know that what goes on outside those church doors is so far from what it should be. There is a saying that “had the eye no tears, the soul would have no rainbows.” Your lovely rainbows color the world with a bittersweet harmony, and I thank you for your honesty and willingness to share your experiences and feelings. This may sound strange, but I wish you enough tears this Christmas to wash some of the hurts out of your soul and into a rainbow of peace. Blessings and cheers, my friend. Natalie 🙂

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    1. laurie27wsmith Post author

      Natalie, what a beautiful reply. I apologise for making you cry. it’s funny when we are children, our life experience is limited and we believe that everybody else lives like we do. The reality for many at xmas and the idealistic view perpetrated by Hollywood is quite different. What a beautiful saying that is, I love it. There are bound to be tears so the rainbows should appear on time. 🙂 I write depending on how I feel Natalie, so you’ll see a change in content and tempo. You may not have seen my chicken poems. 🙂 Thanks again for a lovely reply Natalie.
      Cheers
      Laurie.

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      1. nataliescarberry

        Oh, now I can’t wait for a chicken story! The one about the suicidal roos still has me chuckling from time to time so if the chicken ones are anything like that they’ve got to be good ones. I hope you have an amazingly good day, Laurie. Blessings, Natalie 🙂

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      2. laurie27wsmith Post author

        What I have Natalie is a nonsense chicken poem, (follow the link) a lady I follow daws delightful chickens and I have put a few words of poetry to her pictures. If you go to the poetry section on my blog you’ll fid the others. I’ve also put in a link about chickens from my police blog. Enjoy.
        Cheers
        Laurie.

        https://laurie27wsmith.wordpress.com/2013/09/04/midweek-poetry-hubert-the-gravity-defying-chicken-and-the-ressurrection-of-hubert/

        https://laurie27wsmith.wordpress.com/2012/07/14/a-policemans-lot-part-2-a-tale-of-the-wayward-chickens-and-free-chocolate-biscuits/

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      3. nataliescarberry

        Well, hell, Laurie, you made me cry yesterday and now I’ve laughed until tears have run down my face today over the police chase after the chicken trucks. You do have such a good way with words and this will make me laugh again and again for days and days. I knew I was gonna love the chicken stories. Blessings, Natalie 🙂 🙂 🙂

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  7. Raani York

    I love the poem, Laurie… and I do know about this particular sadness… and one day, you and I might talk about it… There has been moments I didn’t know where it came from – but I think I found out.
    Hugs to you!!

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    1. laurie27wsmith Post author

      Thanks Raani, I’ve come across many who actually detest this time of year. I think there is a lot of pressure on people to be happy when in fact they can’t. I’d love to sit down and chat with you abut it, although Jake may come a scratching. As an aside, I went into a shop today and a cat sat on the counter, so I patted it and the little bugger bit my hand and drew blood. ouch. 😦

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  8. hitandrun1964

    I’m sorry you feel bad/sad/down/flat:( I think a lot of people feel that way. Anticipation is supposedly the best part of everything, although that doesn’t always hold true. We miss the people who are gone, at holiday time, that’s for sure. I would tell you that I hope you feel better but I have a feeling you won’t. I would send a chicken to sit with you and cluck softly by your side but I don’t think that will help either. So, I will send are nice wishes and the hope that this year will be better than you expect, even a little. Don’t listen to songs that make you feel bad/sad. Try to ignore all the triggers that put you in that icky mood. If you can’t…go to bed early and don’t decorate anything. Xmas Eve is the big night for us. Xmas Day we all spend alone putting the decorations away. We have snow and we are supposed to get more tomorrow and Thursday. Sigh. I would send some snow to you but I’m afraid you would just open a huge jar of water:)

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    1. laurie27wsmith Post author

      Hi Gigi, I only had anticipation as a child and that soon disappeared on our third year in Australia. I won’t go into it, it’s wrist slashing stuff. As a boy the snow was important, not now. My last white xmas was in 2003 when I went to visit my son and grandchildren in Canada. A definite white xmas there. It was the last contact I had with the g/children and haven’t seen them since. Most of my adult life xmas was spent at work, (shift work) so a xmas day in jail is enough to put you off for life. Then in the police breaking up domestic fights and picking up violent drunks knocks the edge off peace and goodwill to all. I might have to walk around with earplugs in for the month leading up to xmas. I don’t go out of my way to upset anyone else’s day, it’s a case of doing it for those you love and getting on with it. I don’t mind hot xmas days though and I do enjoy seeing kids enjoy the day. It’s the sadness that envelopes me and it’s not even for those who’ve gone. I have a idea what it is but I doubt many will believe or understand it. Send a chicken, it will be welcomed as a friend and not for dinner. 🙂
      Cheers
      Laurie.

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  9. Bette A. Stevens

    Dear Laurie. Your poignant poem of a Christmas Past truly touched me. It so reminds me of my main character Shawn Daniels in PURE TRASH, the short story. I’m working on Shawn’s coming of age novel now (my first) and would love to know what you think of PURE TRASH. I would be delighted to Gift you a copy of the short story if you would like to read it. If so, email me at bettestevens@tds.net Subject: GIFT copy of PURE TRASH (let me know if you’d like eBook or Paperback. Thanks so much for sharing your poem. Christmas blessings, Bette

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  10. davidprosser

    About the only part of your story I can’t identify with Laurie is the snow. My memory may be getting dim but I’m sure I remember a few snowy Christmases in the 50’s and maybe even the early 60’s though I was in the North Wast and that may have been different.
    I still enjoy the build up and the gift buying but feel flat and low on the day. Silent Night has the same effect on me so I’ve got the tissues handy. Christmas Day on my own this year so I don’t bring anyone else down to my level and then boxing day with my daughter where I’ll no doubt be fine again.
    Nadolig Llawen.

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    1. laurie27wsmith Post author

      I was in the north west too David, Barrow-in-Furness. We can discount my first 4 xmas’ it could have hailed for all I know. I remember we had snow maybe around new year usually. It would snow up on Black Combe though. 1959 we had so much snow it drifted up to our second storey windows. The old man climbed out of the window with a shovel and dug his way down to the front door. Exciting stuff. Have a good boxing day David.
      Cheers
      Laurie.

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