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It Really is the Presence

T’was the day before Christmas as we drove through Vermont,

Thing1 and I both remarked thanks to Dartmouth-Hitchcock hospital we had all anyone could want.


Most Christmas Eves are spent with parent and relatives,

Featuring roast beast dinners that can only be described with superlatives

Like sumptuous, scrumptious and delicious,

And the kids even manage to escape doing the dishes.


Often candlelight church services follow the dinners,

Then hanging stockings and setting out cookies to keep Santa from getting any slimmer.

Next reading the Night Before Christmas before heading to bed,

With dreams of turkey and presents dancing in everyone’s heads.


But 2018 was a year like no other,

With dozens of trips to Dartmouth for Thing1 and his mother.

Right up through October and November they drove

Back and forth Thing1’s troubles with ulcerative colitis to finally solve.


With surgeries planned, holiday plans stayed up in the air.

And Grandparents not knowing when or if they should be there,

A $10 thrift store fir tree the only sign

That at our house a holiday was coming down the line.


Then the day before Christmas, we got home late in the day but so happy.

There was no time for roast beast, our Eve schedule was totally scrappy,

All we wanted to do was scarf down some leftovers

Then sit on the sectional watching TV and wait for the holidays to blow over.


But as ‘Papa’ was dusting crumbs off his sweatshirt and I was swearing my energy was finally sapped,

Thing2 came in with a request for a reading of a family favorite before we could get to our long winter’s naps.


I rose from my spot on the sectional to retrieve the famous book,

My coveted corner instantly appropriated by my offspring suddenly turned crook.

On my return, his eyes asked, “Whatsa matter?”

I said, “It’s your year to read, now out of my seat you little squatter!”


Thing2 looked at his audience with a giggle,

And situated himself in the center with quite a few wriggles.

The book finally got read

And the three exhausted adults and one exuberant boy finally got to bed.


Santa had left instructions for mom to layout a few stockings,

The Big Guy and I earlier had been talking

About a year with no presents – just a quiet day –

But Thing2 and I had found a single gift of Trivial Pursuit for the family to play.


Christmas morning came with a quiet breakfast,

Aside from a the barely stuffed stockings, no unwrapping fuss.

There was only the board game we decided to play,

As around the coffee table we sat and laughed and kibitzed all day.


Now, it’s the week after Christmas and the grandparents are here

They’re following dinner with friends and a week of good cheer.

The twinkle lights are still glowing and the tree is still up

No plethora of gifts under it branches has been lined up.


We’ll all play Santa today and tomorrow,

But to go overboard with gifts we’ve sworn not steal, beg or borrow

Because just as a famous doctor through a green old Grinch hinted,

It’s not with boxes and bags that a holiday is minted.

In fact the absence of wrappings and tags and presents

Has helped us remember that the best holidays are about just being present.

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