On Poetry

I am a big fan of poetry.  Seriously, I just love it.  It all started when I was in first grade.  Yes, I fell in love with poetry when I was six.

In my first grade class, when my teacher would be out we had a regular substitute teacher.  Her name is lost to time for me, but her legacy will live forever.

Substitute teaching a class of six-year-olds must be one of the most difficult tasks one can undertake.  But this substitute had it sorted.  So long as we were good, kept the chaos to a minimum and listened, for the last half-hour of the day, she would read to us from Shel Silverstein.  Make no doubt, I love Mr. Silverstein’s works – and will be passing this affection down to my children.  But, the first time I heard her read about Being Eaten By a Boa-constrictor, I was set.

Mr. Silverstein’s works were silly and irreverent.  They made my six-year-old mind think.  How would Captain Hook pick his nose?

So I think I’m going to start putting some of my own poetry up here on the blog.  Keep an eye out under the “Sundry Stories and Such” link.





So it’s Christmas.  I know that my ambivalence towards this highest of the high Capitalist holidays makes me somewhat odd, but turns out I don’t care.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the love-fest that is Christmas.  Everyone calls everyone and wishes them well.  That I can get behind.  And I love all the crazy traditions people have.  My family is no different.

Allow me to paint you a scene from one our better Christmases.

When I was growing up, the tradition was, me, and my two brothers would be told the night before Christmas day what the earliest time we were allowed to wake the house.  Usually, it was six in the morning.  Which meant we were up at about four.  We would, stealthy as the three stooges, sneak downstairs in hopes of calming the roiling tumult of crazy, only to find that we – by “sneaking” downstairs had just poured gasoline on a bonfire.

So there’s my brothers and me, having sneakily snuck downstairs to look at the extraordinary proof of Santa’s existence, now trapped downstairs.  Because we all know that a) we cannot return to our beds because if we try to we are just going to be counting seconds as if they are hours and; even worse, b) we cannot stay in the living room (where the tree was) because we are having a lot of issues at the moment with our individual self-control.

Eventually, five in the morning would come around and my dad, no doubt already awake and very aware of our capering, would wake our mother and then he would come downstairs.  Normally, Dad’s a pretty stoic guy.  Don’t get me wrong, my Dad is awesome.  Super-reliable and just filled with wisdom and knowledge, and always ready to help.  Just a great all-around Dad.  He would come downstairs and in the glory of Christmas tree lights, he would be smiling like a loon.  He would match our enthusiasm seemingly with child-like glee.  He would tell us to wait for mom to wake up, and would go to make his morning coffee.

His coming downstairs was the signal to my brothers and me that our non-silence could stop.  The house would explode into noise.  Three boys wishing their father Merry Christmas – exuberantly.  Dad, enthusiastically returning the happy greeting.  About ten minutes later, Dad is sipping his coffee while keeping an eye on all three of his sons, Mom would come downstairs.

My mom is great.  Awesome cook.  Great hugs.  Stern but not too much.  And trust me, she ran (and still does) the home.  She would show up and the noise of Christmas would renew as if somehow her presence meant that Christmas had well and truly arrived.

Eventually, presents opened, pictures were taken and all the usual chaos of the holiday would be past.  Dad would grab a couple trashbags and would begin overseeing the cleanup, mom would start making breakfast.  Usually, this happened around seven, seven-thirty.

Then came the tradition.  Now my family will likely not recognize this as a “true” family tradition, but it exists nonetheless.  I imagine it exists in nearly every home on this day.

I am the oldest, so I usually had much more staying power for the energy requirements of a child at Christmas.  But by nine in the morning, all the toys and games having been ogled, my brothers and I would crash.  It took me a few years to really realize this, but the whole house would just kind of pause for an hour or three, mid-morning, for a post-Christmas-morning nap.  There’s the tradition, a nap.  One of my favorite parts of the day.

Now don’t get me wrong, we have many traditions in my family.  Some are more embarrassing than others, but the post-present nap is one of my favorites.

Now, my wife and I are making all new traditions.  Watching Doctor Who and eating sushi.  Plus with our new little one – Spudford (obviously not a real name) – new traditions will be coming.  Because, let’s face it, Christmas is awesome, but it truly shows itself in the exuberance of children.

Merry Christmas all!  Now I’m off for a nap.  It’s weird how I still want a nap right around nine in the morning on Christmas day…..