Friday, December 14, 2007

A Christmas Cup of Tea

Oh my gosh, just a couple of more comments about yesterday's post. Believe me, I heard more than four comments...everything from "what a meanie" to "are you out of your mind?" Thank you to the four brave souls who dared to comment: much appreciated. This post spiked more hits at site meter than any for the past two weeks. Okay then...skating right on, shall we? LOL!

This little poem was sent to me last year by a friend. I really loved it and saved it to my essays and poems folder, which means that I can now share it with you. I love all the little stories about Christmas time, don't you?



A Christmas Cup of Tea
by Tom Hegg

The log was in the fireplace, all spiced and set to burn
At last, the yearly Christmas race was in the clubhouse turn.
The cards were in the mail, all the gifts beneath the tree
And 30 days reprieve till VISA could catch up with me.

Though smug satisfaction seemed the order of the day
Something still was nagging me and would not go away
A week before I got a letter from my old great Aunt
It read: Of course I'll understand completely if you can't,
but if you find you have some time, how wonderful it would be
if we could have a little chat and share a cup of Christmas tea.

She'd had a mild stroke that year which crippled her left side
Though house bound now my folks had said it hadn't hurt her pride
They said: She'd love to see you. What a nice thing it would be
For you to go and maybe have a cup of Christmas tea.

But boy! I didn't want to go. Oh, what a bitter pill
To see an old relation and how far she'd gone downhill
I remembered her as vigorous, as funny and as bright
I remembered Christmas Eves when she regaled us half the night.
I didn't want to risk all that. I didn't want the pain.
I didn't need to be depressed. I didn't need the strain.
And what about my brother? Why not him? She's his aunt, too!
I thought I had it justified, but then before I knew
The reasons not to go I so painstakingly had built
Were cracking wide and crumbling in an acid rain of guilt.

I put on boots and gloves and cap, shame stinging every pore
And armed with squeegee, sand and map, I went out my front door.
I drove in from the suburbs to the older part of town
The pastels of the newer homes gave way to gray and brown.

I had that disembodied feeling as the car pulled up
And stopped beside the wooden house that held the Christmas cup.
How I got up to her door I really couldn't tell...
I watched my hand rise up and press the button of the bell.

I waited, aided by my nervous rocking to and fro
And just as I was thinking I should turn around and go
I heard the rattle of the china in the hutch against the wall
The triple beat of two feet and a crutch came down the hall.

The clicking of the door latch and the sliding of the bolt
And a little swollen struggle popped it open with a jolt.
She stood there pale and tiny, looking fragile as an egg
I forced myself from staring at the brace that held her leg.

And though her thick bifocals seemed to crack and spread her eyes
Their milky and refracted depths lit up with young surprise.
Come in! Come in! She laughed the words. She took me by the hand
And all my fears dissolved away as if by her command.

We went inside and then before I knew how to react
Before my eyes and ears and nose was Christmas past, alive, intact!
The scent of candied oranges, of cinnamon and pine,
The antique wooden soldiers in their military line,
The porcelain Nativity I'd always loved so much,
The Dresden and the crystal I'd been told I mustn't touch.

My spirit fairly bolted like a child out of class
And danced among the ornaments of calico and glass.
Like magic I was six again, deep in a Christmas spell
Steeped in the million memories the boy inside knew well.

And here among old Christmas cards so lovingly displayed
A special place of honor for the ones we kids had made.
And there, beside her rocking chair, the center of it all
My great Aunt stood and said how nice it was that I had come to call.

I sat and rattled on about the weather and the flu
She listened very patiently then smiled and said, "What's new?"
Thoughts and words began to flow. I started making sense
I lost the phony breeziness I use when I get tense.

She was still passionately interested in everything I did.
She was positive. Encouraging. Like when I was a kid.
Simple generalities still sent her into fits
She demanded the specifics. The particulars. The bits.


We talked about the limitations that she'd had to face
She spoke with utter candor and with humor and good grace.
Then defying the reality of crutch and straightened knee
On wings of hospitality she flew to brew the tea.

I sat alone with feelings that I hadn't felt in years.
I looked around at Christmas through a thick hot blur of tears.
And the candles and the holly she'd arranged on every shelf
The impossibly good cookies she still somehow baked herself.

But these rich and tactile memories became quite pale and thin
When measured by the Christmas my great Aunt kept deep within.
Her body halved and nearly spent, but my great Aunt was whole
I saw a Christmas miracle, the triumph of a soul.

The triple beat of two feet and a crutch came down the hall
The rattle of the china in the hutch against the wall.
She poured two cups. She smiled and then she handed one to me
And then we settled back and had a cup of Christmas tea.



P.S. ...and totally unrelated... Every now and then I read about a blogger's frustration with her header. Today is my turn. No matter what I do, I cannot get my header straightened around. I find these kinds of upsets completely maddening. Yes, my name is Vee and I am a Type A personality.

Sooo, if anyone knows the answer to this dilemma, I'll be very grateful. Spending any time in the chaos and confusion of Blog "Help" is absolutely maddening. Guess that the Blogger folks realize that there is a problem and are working on it as stated right here.

10 comments:

  1. Vee,
    That was a great way to start my day, by reading such a wonderful poem! How lucky you are to have such a friend to send you such a sweet reminder of the importance of spending time with those we love. Thank you for posting this.
    Have a great day, Miss Sandy

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  2. I'm not able to figure out what you mean by the following...
    -----------

    Believe me, I heard more than four comments...everything from "what a meanie" to "are you out of your mind?"
    ------------

    Does this mean that you got "meanie" kinds of comments, but didn't show them? Or are you just being funny and saying that you *think* some people wanted to write those comments? But were too chicken to do so? -giggles-

    As for me, back when we had children, I purely *hated* the Santa Claus myth because we did all the work, and he got some of the credit. Yep, purely selfish reason. -grin-

    Mari-Nanci

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  3. Just saw that my Header has been totally *squished* and ruined too!!!!

    What is going on??????

    Mari-Nanci

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  4. Wonderful poem! Christmas tea parties...I'm having one today too!

    I've been thinking about the Santa thing a lot, and I'm still riding the fence on this one. I grew up knowing Santa wasn't real & yet sort of playing along...and that's how we handled it with our kids. I think if we get back to the 'root' of Santa (the story of St. Nicholas), there is a lesson we could be teaching our kids. He was truly a Saint and taught people about the love of God. But Santa has become so far removed from the real meaning of Christmas, that you definitely have a valid point. I'll keep thinking on that!

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  5. yeh...it's blogger Vee..

    this morning at about 1:00 a.m...they must have been fiddling with things...cuz I noted that all of our headers went wide and skinny and even the letter coloureing has changed ...don't fiddle with it.... it will likely change back when enough folks complain.

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  6. My God, it made me go call my Aunt Margaret! Thank you!!!
    xo
    Sandi

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  7. I just found your blog. Thanks for sharing the poem. It was lovely to slow down and read it. It's been a hectic day for me.

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  8. Vee - I received your Christmas card today! Thank you so much. And might I say, you have BEAUTIFUL handwriting! (Hey - I NOTICE these things...I, myself, am somewhat lacking in that area so when I see great penmanship, I tend to focus on it. lol).
    I appreciate your card more than I can say. I think Christmas cards are fantastic (I might have menitoned that in the past, huh?) and I'm thrilled whenever I receive one - especially one whose sender makes me smile as you do!
    Thank you again!!
    Merry Christmas -
    Kari

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  9. Vee...I loved your poem....made me think of my great Grandmothers last few years....oh gosh....

    Sorry I missed the Santa debate...my kids were taught the real meaning of Christmas first and Santa was second so there really was no competition...also we do the Jesus birthday cake as well.

    Sorry about your header but I'm comforted knowing I'm not the only one....
    Blessings,
    Robin

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  10. What a wonderful poem, thanks so much for sharing, Vee! I read it today, on a cold Sunday morning, while having a wonderful cup of tea...

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