The Ache of Christmas

By Dorothy V. Benson
Tuesday December 23, 2008 - 10:37:00 AM

Do I remember turkey and all the trimmings 

when I was small and knew the bracing taste of hope, 

like mountain water? 

One bird, brought to the door 

by some unnamed agency. No more. 

But just as well, for how my mother loathed the unrequested blind charity. 

Where did they get our name? 

I see the accusation yet in Mama’s angry eyes. 


Do I remember large boxes beckoning in joyous colors 

and tied with ribbon curling in a pile at center top? 

Boxes roomy enough to cage a basketball for my brother? 

Or hide a baby doll that cried once, briefly, 

when you turned her over, 

or went to sleep when you laid her down? 

No. Without specifying, memory counts the presents few 

and meager. 

Pa might get a tie, Ma a pair of stockings 

left unexpectantly by a relative. 

From us children they received Christmas cards 

made out of cut-outs from old magazines, 

a child’s fevered determination, and flour paste. 


Remembering childhood Christmases 

I see through the mists of time 

hope’s reservoir diminished by disappointment, 

falling away to resignation. 

Only now have I thought to ask about my parents, 

how, the luxury of giving failed them, 

they must have sorrowed 

for merely not having.