the angel of Christmas Eve gift!, sequin studded stockings, and chalk figurines of wise men and stately camels

Believe Angels

My sister in law called from Florida this morning
asking where the tradition of Christmas Eve gift comes from
and after consultation with Mom, decided it was the Allen side
that started it.
Now in our family, the tradition is whoever yells ‘Christmas Eve gift’ first
receives a present. So you lie in wait for people– I answer the phone
‘Christmas Eve gift’ all day, just in case. It can be a little disconcerting
for phone solicitors and people of short acquaintance
that don’t really know how odd we are.

And I explained to a friend about our traditional fruitcake
baked each year by my grandmother, then my mother
and now me. Not really the traditional fruitcake,
more pound cake with nuts and dates, with syrupy
sweet orange juice poured over the top.

And I make Christmas stockings for every newcomer in the family.
A tradition begun when we were children, our socks created
by my Dad’s first cousin and now continued for a third generation,
each hung by the chimney with care, with hopes of St Nicholas
and his eight tiny reindeer.

And our most cherished tradition is bringing out the family manger scene
of which I have custody. It is created from dime store chalk figures,
some still with the price tags from T.G.& Y. or Woolworths
and a cardboard stable with a little paper scene
glued on the back. There are the three wise men
one with a busted nose and their stately camel. The shepherds
with their two little sheep. A donkey or two to rest beside the manger.
An angel in pink, perched on the roof top that’s still covered in bits
of glued on straw. Kneeling Mary, dressed in blue, and stalwart Joseph
with his staff to stand watch over the tiny Baby looking up from the manger.

The Baby.

‘For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.’ Luke 2:11-14

All our traditions begin with Him.

*** Twelve Days of Angels, Day Eleven

the angel of transubstantiation and fruitcake recipes

Angels of Childhood

(The amygdala and hippocampus
receive the information
from the olfactory bulb
before routing it to the thalamus,
already conjuring memories
before awareness of the scent
is formed in the conscious mind.)

Four eggs perch in my grandmother’s bowl
among the fragrant tangerines,
waiting to take a crack into the citrus-y batter
where the luscious dates await.
The air is scented with oranges
and roasting pecans,
the fragrance of a kitchen
that no longer exists.

*** Twelve Days of Angels, Day Ten

the angel of circumstantial changes and subsequent emotional recalibration

Twelve Days of Angels Day Two

The years ending is tangled in bindweed-
its filamental arms reaching from summer into winter.
Bound by tangles
of bittersweet and honeysuckle-
I feel it deep in my chest,
the bitter and the sweet,
such days of bliss and anger,
frustration and harmony.
I wish I could remove the bad
and leave the good
but it is all too tangled-
the vines interlaced in my ribs,
rising up my throat
to be released each time I open my mouth-
its tangled in thought
and desire
and responsibility
all too nimble
all too green
all too restricting –

I sharpen my machete.

*** Twelve Days of Angels, Day Nine

the angel of the longest night

Angel 2

our breath mingles
creating tiny snowflakes
that rise in the north wind
delicate ice crystals
float with sparks
from the solstice fire
bright little boats on a celestial sea
rising embers sailing across the deep blue
ocean of stars
sparkling bright in the first winter night

*** Twelve Days of Angels, Day Eight

the angel of long marriages and star crossed lovers

Victorian Angels

Better with every telling , the story of the night we met,
our creation mythology, filled with revelry and beer.
My gemini to your cancer- constellations sharing stars
aligned just so with the conjunction of planets
perfectly formed in the cataclysm of desire.

Our saga continued with heroic deeds and herculean tasks,
all spilling across pages of years. Tattooed on our faces,
deeds fair and foul, most forgotten and some forgiven,
all returning to that original sin. Our garden created
and cultivated with four hands, labored,
and on occasion, nurtured by an angel or two.

Willingly we return to that first moment, revisiting
the past lore, embellished golden with retelling.
The myth of our own making, epic, comic, tragic-
the end will be as the beginning, a story better
for the telling and perfectly formed in the stars.

*** Twelve Days of Angels, Day Seven

the angel of ephemeral beauty

Angels

Such light and lightness reveal
as thru a mirrored day, sparkled
and triumphant.
What hear the song
from tiny bird in bough?
What shadow deep it springs?
Will light it brings
in melody and charm,
display the wings to rise upon?
What lightness!
What glory a December day,
all sparkled with song and sun.

the angel dancing on the head of a pin

Sweet face of an Angel

It’s the minutia-
bits of things that must be done
over and over and over
and over again.

I’m no Sisyphus,
pushing that same boulder
up the hill
the same way
everyday.

Well, maybe I am.

What would I do without that stone?
Pushing it with all my strength
until at last,
at the end of the day,
I watch it roll down again
as the sun sets scarlet on the western ridge
and I pour that first glass of red wine.

*** Twelve Days of Angels, Day Three