A Holiday Tradition

In 1992, I was out of work and broke as a joke drinking Coke. At Christmas, I relied on my God-given talents, and wrote a poem, which I included in everyone’s Christmas card. This would be their present from me.

The tradition has continued since. As a special treat to my loyal readers, I thought I’d share the story I wrote for the 2001 Christmas card:

The Christmas Dream

I was riding my bike in Alaska,

And stopped at North Pole.

I spoke to Santa, and Mrs. Claus fed me homemade chocolate chip cookies.

The dream was so real that I could still smell the cookies.

Then I heard it again… the sound of faint whispering coming from elsewhere in the house.

I stepped into my fuzzy bunny slippers and pulled on my robe.

I reached for the baseball bat in the closet and leaped into the hallway.

Down the hall, the warm glow of twinkling Christmas tree lights bounced along the walls…

But didn’t I turn off the lights before I went to bed?

Somewhere in the back of my mind, I remembered that it was Christmas morning –

ANYTHING COULD HAPPEN!

My heart began to race, and adrenaline pumped through my veins as I peeked around the corner into the living room.

There was a quick flash of light, did I see…?!?! Nah! Couldn’t be!

Convinced that I was seeing things, I got back to business.

I cocked the baseball bat on my shoulder, ready to give any intruder a surprise.

My breath came in short bursts, and I listened intently to the silence –

After checking the doors and windows, I slowly caught my breath.

I opened the refrigerator and grabbed a bottle of Gatorade.

Hey… didn’t Santa offer me Gatorade in my dream?

I plopped down on the couch and rested my fuzzy bunny feet on the coffee table.

Looking at the Christmas tree, I became mesmerized by the blinking lights.

My eyes grew heavy, but snapped open, as I became very aware that something was different.

In the corner, partially hidden by the lighted tree, was a brightly wrapped box with a large red bow on top.

I stood up and glanced briefly into the kitchen…

Hey, is that a plate of cookies?

I walked curiously to the kitchen table.

Sure enough, there was a paper plate of cookies wrapped in plastic wrap.

Sticking out from underneath the plate of cookies was an envelope.

Gingerly, I slid the envelope from under the plate.

In thick letters, that could be mistaken for my mom’s writing, was written my name.

“Dear Matt,” the letter inside began,

“It was most wonderful meeting you last year in North Pole.

We kept tabs on you in Montana this year, and although you had knee problems, we were encouraged that you were able to help others have a terrific experience!”

I was frozen with disbelief, but continued reading:

“Here is a plate of chocolate chip cookies. I remember that you were very fond of them.

“I hope you and you family have a most magical Christmas, and your wonderful friends as well!”

It was signed:

“Mrs. Claus”

“Ho-lee shhhh…” I muttered.

I ripped the plastic wrap from the cookies. Unbelievably, they were still warm!!!

I sank my teeth into the delicious treat and turned my attention back to the box in the living room.

I kneeled down next to the box, which was nearly two-feet tall.

“To Matt”, the label on top said,

“From Santa”.

As I moved the box closer to me, I noticed it was nearly weightless.

I sat down cross-legged, smiling like a kid,

And tore at the big red bow and brightly colored paper.

I pulled open the box and eagerly reached inside.

There was a picture.

In the light of the Christmas tree, I recognized the picture from last Christmas Eve.

I smiled, remembering how amazing Christmas seemed last year.

I set down the photo and reached back into the box.

There was another picture, circa mid 1990’s.

Again, I happily relived warm Christmas thoughts.

I reached into the box again and again.

Each time, there was a single photograph,

And each photograph triggered another beautiful Christmas memory.

Near tears now, having gone through Christmas pictures that spanned my entire life,

I again reached into the box.

This time, I pulled out a card.

It read:

“May the happy memories of Christmases past

Fill your pores with the true spirit of Christmas.

Merry Christmas!

Love, Santa”

When my tears finally abated, I awoke my sleeping legs.

To my amazement, the photos had disappeared,

But the card remained in my grip.

The clock struck 6am.

I placed the card on the kitchen table next to the cookies and went back to bed,

Hoping to dream about Santa and Mrs. Claus,

So I could thank them for such an amazing gift.

Week 52 – Jelly Bean #2

Sugar Consciousness

As I sat on Easter Sunday,

I found a little jelly bean.

I considered many questions:

Where did it come from?

Why was it here?

Was it a sign?

The red mini-bomb of sugar had me wondering:

What was the flavor – strawberry or cherry?

How old was it?

How long had it been there?

I stared and had a vision of eating it.

My mouth watered,

My parotid tweaked,

My teeth hurt.

That little jelly bean on Easter sunday,

Generated so many questions

For such a minuscule thing.

It made me realize how small I was in the universe.

And how much of an impact I have yet to make.

Week 52 – Jelly Bean #1

His Name

Everywhere he went

He caused a scene

Even at school

He punched the dean

He wore shorts

When they wore jeans

He was dirty

They were clean

It’s no lie

He was obscene

“Eat Crap!” he’d say

See what I mean?

He once dated

The cute prom queen

But he was 30

and she was a teen

There was no way

anyone could intervene

This was the way he was

and his name was Jelly Bean.

 

Week 51 – Strong #2

Uncle Sam

He was the tallest,

the strongest,

the fastest,

the smartest.

He was the coolest,

the nicest,

the wisest,

the hardest.

He was you,

me,

everyone

in between.

He was the first,

the second,

the tenth,

the last.

There was never anyone like him,

there was never anything like him.

He was my Uncle Sam,

I still weep.

Week 51 – Strong #1

Tiki

The little man sat cold in the chair

After the chemo drip was attached, the nurse covered him with a fleece blanket.

The blanket screamed SPARTANS!, colored in the familiar green and white.

The man sighed heavily, and resigned himself to watch “The Price is Right”.

During the commercial, he looked up at the IV, which dripped, dripped, dripped in silence.

Again, he sighed.

He closed his eyes.

Behind fluttering eyelids, he saw himself 20 years earlier.

Strong, lithe, healthy.

He was hanging out in a tiki bar in Florida, listening to badass reggae riddims while watching college football on TV.

He could almost taste the Rum Runner, and shivered with the cool memory.

He and his buddies were laughing. Sharing motorcycle stories.

He was the only one left now, and he wondered, opening his eyes again, staring at the plastic bag full of vile chemicals, if he’ll ever get another chance to feel the sand of that warm tiki bar under his feet. Ever again.

Week 50 – Home #2

It was a long month, and I was finally home.

Don’t get me wrong, I had amazing adventures!

Rolling along Route 66 in Arizona,

Dipping my toes in the Pacific Ocean off Malibu,

Driving through the mountains outside of San Bernardino.

I had rain in New Mexico,

Sunshine in Colorado,

Snow in Utah.

In California I met surfers,

In Nevada I met drifters,

In Texas I met truck drivers.

It was an amazing trip for sure,

Wandering lost for a month in America’s Southwest.

Week 50 – Home #1

Run

I ran

And ran.

I got as far West as I could get, and after a few years,

I realized that I couldn’t stay.

So I ran

And ran.

I went as far East as I could go.

I married and settled down.

But after the accident, I was running again.

South, south, south.

I played shuffleboard with old friends, canasta, too.

But I couldn’t stop fidgeting,

So I took off North.

It’s easy to run away,

But you never outrun your demons and habits.

You can try to go home again,

But it’s never really home.

Week 49 – Welcome #2

Come On Down!

Wouldn’t you want to go

To see the crazy show

And go where you know

You won’t stub your toe?

Wouldn’t you like to see

A brand new vanity

A place where you can be

And avoid calamity?

A place where you feel welcome

Happy, joyful and then some

No one thinks you’re dumb

And there’s no need to be numb…

We’d love to have you here

A place with ice cold beer

You can stand around and cheer

And there’s nothing at all to fear!

So come on down

Turn around that frown

Don’t be a clown

Come on down!

Week 49 – Welcome #1

The Birth of the Season

The autumnal equinox coincided with the full moon.

The farm was hosting a celebration of lightness and harvest, and we were buzzing in vibration.

Costumes weren’t required, but those without them (like me) were out of place.

We stoked the single story high bonfire, and lit humorous cigarettes, breathing the herb deep into our lungs.

Someone thought margaritas were a good idea, and I gladly agreed.

Carl strummed his guitar and Janet (who was pretty weird) played her oboe.

We sat in beach chairs and dug our toes into the dirt.

We welcomed the season with chants and prayers, and spun out of the galaxy as the stars whirled overhead.