It’s Christmas Eve night,
All the world’s at rest.
Ghosts and ancestors of yore,
Watch us act our best.
Families of the world,
Have tabletop manger scenes,
And writers use the word “yore,”
Though we don’t know what it means.
So eat a cookie, and smile,
And put your cellphone down,
Talk to those who love you,
And family out of town.
Kiss a baby, pet a dog,
Help with kitchen chores,
And when you ask the dinner blessing,
Find a way to use the word “yore.”
Each family—even if it’s broken,
Each kid—no matter how sad,
Should find a way to smile at Christmas,
Though life is sometimes bad.
Life can be bad, you know.
It’s not smiles and mirth for all.
There are boys who live too far from town,
To learn to play baseball.
There are girls without mommies,
Boys without their dads,
Mothers with empty purses,
Working hard for what they have.
I was one of these.
And I’m betting you were, too.
Nobody gets life easy. No.
No matter what they do.
So I shall think of them,
The same way fire takes to logs,
I will think of the addicted, the homeless, the battered,
And unadopted dogs.
Because there is something bigger, way up yonder,
Something grander, something good.
I don’t know its name,
I just know it’s gravely misunderstood.
But it’s understood on Christmas,
Because tonight it’s in the air,
Thank heaven it’s in stars and memories,
And family photos by the stairs.
It’s in tales I hear of Granny,
Killing hens with a cleaver,
The story of Uncle John,
Trapping that pesky beaver.
The stories of my daddy,
Running barefoot through the snow,
When he was young and healthy. Alive.
Before he had to go.
It’s in family. And friends.
And things that make you cry,
Things that matter, things that don’t,
And people who have died.
You see, family is only temporary,
One blink, and here comes fate,
You’ll wish you had more time,
You’ll wish, though it’s too late.
But lo, the memories are back tonight,
They’ve all come out to play,
They run like warm, thick, ribbon syrup,
And Daddy’s alive again this way.
And the goodness, God, it’s all over,
Not only here with me and you,
It’s in the whole damn city,
From ghettos to ICU.
It’s sitting at your tree, your foster home,
Above your very bed.
In hospice rooms, where nurses smile,
Though loved one’s eyes are red.
It’s in your wife, your newborn,
This redhead’s pathetic rhyme.
And it is with you always,
Until the end of time.
Merry Christmas to your family,
Merry Christmas to you, too.
But most of all, Merry Christmas to the hurting.
For God himself is here with you.