Winter sun sets on East Anglian salt marshes
Sodium lamps pool golden on the snow
Candles glow in ancient chapel
As childish treble intones
'Once in royal David's city.'
While morning light breaks in crisp cold air
Setting foothills aflame
And squirrels wake and scurry on the roof.
Memories of sixty Christmases
Are layered like tissue paper
Each holding its gift of sorrow or joy.
The tiny babe lying in incubator
Seeking life's wondrous star
The one year old gazing in awe
At her first Christmas tree
The nativity play where I was Mary
And baby sister Katy was Jesus.
Helping Dad stretch paper chains
Across the sitting room
Setting out sherry and mince pies for Santa
Hanging up my stocking
And pretending to be asleep
When Dad came in to fill it.
The year Mum was in intensive care
And I shed tears into the mince pie mix,
And the time I wrapped everything
In pink and purple tissue paper.
Indian Christmas at Ramakrishna mission
Doing puja to Christ
Desert Christmas, eating with the homeless
In Tuscon Arizona.
Ipswich Christmases with Mum and Dad
Around log fire
And candlelight service
At Mary le Tower church,
Walking in a foot of snow
To Thomas Aquinas on the Hill
For Midnight Mass
Where Netanya took communion
Thinking it was kiddish.
Lighting a candle for Dad
At Methodist carol service
And praying he would live
Until we said farewell.
Today I unwrap these memories
As choir sings Ding dong merrily,
Thinking of those long gone
Grandpa's secular Home Office cards
Nutcracker ballet with Granny
And Nanny listening to Queen's speech.
One day I too will be a Christmas memory
Wrapped in gold tissue paper
And somebody perhaps will shed a tear
Remembering a little babe
who found her wondrous star
And let her light shine forth.