Christmas was ever my favorite time of year,
and though I knew brother John was shaking
sleigh bells just outside near the prized gardenias,
it did not matter, there was harmony, excitement
building toward that magical morning when,
tiptoeing, little eyes spied most of the living room
strewn with gifts of every size and color spilling
out from the bowels of the flocked and brightly-
lit tree never fake, always fresh, as music wafted
from the hi-fi stereo ensconced in its own polished
oak cabinet, Mantovani, Andy Williams, Burl Ives,
Tchaikovsky in colorful paper jackets sequestered
away except in this season where they would appear
as if by magic, all was in a dream and there were
leaflets of carols we knew by heart anyway
as we sang together in harmony and played
Mille Borne and rummy, legs crossed or kicked
out and back to the sides which I was told would
ruin my knees, but this time of year there were
no admonishments;

The tree perpetually chosen from its temporary
lodging place near Foothill and Rosemead, fir
and balsam smells confounding the asphalt
they were corralled in, strands of blush fiberglass
angel hair and clumps of cotton wool besmirching
a sign that might have read Santa’s Playland
or Workshop, memory fails now and there were
real reindeer sometimes discomfited in the heat
of the Southern California winter, strung together
in wood and wire wheeled cages decked
with red and green embellishments;

Then there was Santa looking resplendent
in fur-trimmed velvet with a long flowing beard
and we could sit and we could ask and fairly expect
that at least one of our dearest wishes would be granted,
though we dared not ask for much in a family so large
that it soon sunk under the weight of its own excesses
and insufficiencies;

Still, there was Christmas dinner with ham not turkey,
pierced with cloves and brown sugar, candied yams,
bright flush of crimson cranberries, a requisite jello
in garish technicolor hue shot through with ruby-red
seeded grapes and chunks of banana and chopped
dates, Grandma Howell’s egg white-topped sugary-
milky float, brown and white egg-glazed bakery rolls,
unremarkable canned green peas looking ever
so grand in antique bowls and serving dishes,
glass and glazed ceramic which our eyes beheld
only during the holiday season;

We ate at the glass dining table usually reserved
for special guests, sat in cream-colored velveteen-
covered chairs adjacent to the antique white baby
grand mom stripped and refinished and played
often, arthritic fingers dancing over ivory keys
smoothed by marching time and an observer,
should there have been such a one, would surely
have believed we were one big happy family
and it was true, on those sparkling holy days.

(Photo: Me in mom’s arms before our new home in the hills and two other boys came along to round out our family of nine.)

20 thoughts on “Holy-Daze

  1. Oh, Bela! Something about this seems so familiar…maybe it was the ending.
    And something touched my heart and made a tear fall.
    I love your writing…your ability to paint a picture with words that flow like a lazy river…round the bend…meandering along…no hurry…just stating the facts.
    Sweet blessings to you, dear Bela. May your Christmas be filled with love and light πŸ’—

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww, Lorrie – many thanks for your kind enjoyment of my work. Sorry about the tear πŸ’¦ You know, holidays are a mixed bag for so many people. But despite how I grew up, I’ve always loved this time of year. There’s something magical about it – everyone smiling, at least here in Hawaii, lights and color and … what’s not to love? Aloha, dear – and many blessings in the coming year to you! ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great memories. There were 7 kids in my family, too. Yes, too many! ;D We’re still all here and kicking, praises be. Tomorrow I’ll be seeing most of them and we’ll dredge up the memories for fresh laughs.
    Enjoy your holiday time with your family!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Bela, so many great memories, and wonderful images! (You too were able to sit with your legs back and kicked out sideways? It used to freak out my mom but it was perfectly comfortable. Can’t imagine now!)
    You certainly had a big family – looks like fun. Great photo!
    Merry Christmas, Bela! πŸŽ„πŸ’•

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Relished your fond recap of festive memories, and I also spent a little time gazing at the lovely family pic. Season’s greetings to you, Bela, and all the best for another rewarding year ahead. Namaste….

    Liked by 1 person

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