Our parents filled
Our house with traditions
From First Day School Photos
To Birthday Cake Wishings,

Easter Egg hunting,
Super Bowl gatherings,
July 4th bunting,
Dad’s New Years Toast blatherings.

Among all of it Christmas
Came with the most:
An Elf on the Shelf,
Those chestnuts to roast,

Stockings and trimmings,
Caroling, punch
For my sister with the Christmas Eve birthday,
a brunch.

They were all great
But each year the best
Was what kicked off our annual
Red and green fest.

It took place the night
We put up the tree
Then with tinsel and lights
Made it bright and shiny.

We added the ornaments:
Bells, candy canes,
Small wood nutcrackers,
Cool metal trains.

Then those gorgeous glass globes,
Too many to count,
From the trunk to the star,
An amazing amount.

Mom loved them so
They were her cherished prize,
It was tradition just seeing
How they glimmered her eyes.

All but one, every year,
The last left in the box.
Spotting it, Mom’s eyes and
Smile thinned like a fox.

We all sat to watch,
Dad was included,
Knowing Christmas couldn’t start
‘Till this moment concluded:

Mom removing the final
Gorgeous glass globe
And carefully lifting it
Beside her ear lobe,

She made like her fave
Doc Gooden on the hill,
Kicked her leg high
And fired a pill

In our open brick hearth
Where shattering mixed with flames
Made us cheer as if Doc
Just tossed a perfect game.

“Now Christmas time’s back,”
to us exclaimed my Mother.
“And we’ve broken one globe.
Let us not break another.”

In our family everyone’s a bit
Different from the rest
But no one in our house
Disputes which tradition’s best.


A Wise Man travelled
From Orient-are
Upon his arrival
He stopped in a bar.

On the stool beside him
Sat a Young Fool,
Short on knowledge of life,
If an expert in school.

The Fool talked a lot
Once their chat began,
He told the Wise Man
Of His “Full Proof Life Plan.”

“It may not be that easy,”
the smiling Wise Man said,
“Just do your best.
And you’ll have no cause to dread.”

“Of course I won’t, man!
This Plan is the best.
Feel free to borrow it.
Go ahead, be my guest!”

They went back and forth
And soon it was clear
To the Wise Man that this
Debate could go on years.

And that was a bummer
That no matter how wise
He was he couldn’t open
This poor Young Fool’s eyes.

But then in the course
Of tuning him out
The Wise Man detected
Some sweet music about.

The harmony keys
At first drew him in
Then he heard the lyrics
And they made him grin.

Their message was timely
And an inspiration
To a man full of wisdom
But not beyond frustration:

“What a Fool believes
a Wise Man has no power
to reason away.”
It made sweetness from sour.

This genius musician
His magical words.
The wisest thing, maybe,
The Wise Man had ever heard.

The song lifted his mood,
Made him feel alright.
From then on he didn’t care
If the Fool babbled all night.

No more was there pressure
To change his silly views.
“What this Fool believes,” he thought,
“That’s on him. Not you.

You’re a Wise Man with no
More power to reason
With this Fool than you have
To alter the seasons.”

This lesson from an
Invisible pop star
Was one he took home
That night from the bar:

What a Fool believes?
Not your problem, don’t fret.
There’s no reasoning with him.
At least, there’s never been yet.

*Both McDonald and Kenny Loggins have the songwriting credit on the Doobie Brothers classic linked above that inspired this story.  The assist goes to Gaspar, Balthasar, and Melchior, Kings though not Doobies.  


It’s Christmas Eve Eve

it’s time to decide

On which side of “Naughty or Nice”

You reside.

I’ve minded the ledger

for three-sixty-three

to know which stockings to fill

and which to leave empty.

By today for most people

it’s perfectly clear,

but for some tomorrow

will decide their whole year.

For those still “TBD”

(and you know who you are)

perhaps take this last chance

to shine like a star,

To be grateful and generous

thoughtful and kind,

more orange-soda-sweet

than old-lemon-rind.

You say it’s too late?

Rest assured that’s not true.

Each tomorrow’s a new chance

To make a better you.

So on Day Three-Six-Four of this year,

here’s the trick:

Be nice.  Tip the scales.  You’ll be glad.

Signed, St. Nick.


This, one of my favorite Norman Rockwell covers was published on December 16, 1939.
For more of Rockwell’s classic Christmas images, click here.


Perhaps the best meal of the year
comes weeks after Turkey Day.
It’s a nest built from all the trimmings
That have not yet by then flown away.

Start with any bits of gobbler left
Toss them in a bowl,
Add a scoop of stuffing, yams, mashed potatoes,
Whatever you’ve got … it’s all gold.

If you still have it, stir in gravy,
Then pour it all in a crust.
Cinch the dough, bake on high, that’s it.
No other meal prep takes less fuss!

It’s the yummiest food recycling
That’s plain easy to get right,
So try Thanksgiving Pie:
Send that old crusty bird back in flight.


Christmas night rain
Was causing trepidation
For reindeer who worked
Through precipitation.

There were no good galoshes
To cover a hoof
And also give traction
To walk on a roof.

A red nosed windshield wiper
Had not been invented
A slicker for antlers
Nowhere could be rented.

So wet Christmas Eves
Rudolph would fear
Along with his team
Until finally one year,

They became so distracted
Checking the weather
Their boss caught wind of
His team’s ruffled feathers.

Mrs. Claus heard and said,
“Let me ring a friend.
I bet once and for all
Their concerns we can end.”

A couple weeks later,
It was early December,
A large package arrived addressed

As he opened it Saint Nick whispered,
“What have we got here …

“Just in time,” said Mrs. Claus
walking in, “it’s arrived.
Ella said she could help.
I knew that was no jive.”

The Reindeer Rain Gear
In the box was a boon,
With it on Santa’s team
Hoped they’d face a monsoon:

Water tight goggles,
Impervious slickers,
Treaded hoof booties,
Fur sealing knickers,

All there among Saint Ella
Umbrella’s tricks,
The Reindeer Rain Gear
For a wet Christmas fix,

Thanks to Mrs. Claus
And the power of friends,
Since that year the reindeer
Viewed rain through a new lens.