Appreciate the season

Every year at this time, I pull out a book that has been in my possession for many years.  I read it myself. I share it’s contents with friends.  This year I’m sharing it with you!

a-cup-of-christmas-tea

“A cup of Christmas tea” by Tom Hegg illustrated by Warren Hanson

I cannot read this wonderful (and slightly sappy) poem with getting all choked up…

It would make a marvelous Christmas gift for someone you love, or, treat yourself and revisit it every year as I do.  It is available at Amazon, Chapters, and, Barnes & Noble. It now has a different cover, but I’ve shown you MY version.  It is one which I treasure.

A Cup of Christmas Tea

by Tom Hegg

christmas-holly

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 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
That 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 I’d 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.bardecor06

You can now listen to the author recite his work on YouTube.  Keep your tissues handy!

twitter-header-christmas-holiday-tea

Wishing you all a stress-free, joyous festive season, filled with laughter and love.

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About Fictionophile

Fiction reviewer ; Goodreads librarian. Retired library cataloger - more time to read! Loves books, gardening, and red wine. I have been a reviewer member of NetGalley since October 2013. I review titles offered by Edelweiss, and participate in blog tours with TLC Book Tours.
This entry was posted in Christmas, Favorite books and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Appreciate the season

  1. carhicks says:

    And a very Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to you as well. Thanks for sharing.

    Like

  2. nickimags says:

    What a wonderul poem! ☺

    Like

  3. skyecaitlin says:

    Thank you, dear Lynne: this is quite charming.

    Like

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