FROHE WEIHNACHTEN (My Christmas poem for friends old and new.)
On Christmas Eve, mum softly sang Stille Nacht.
Busy with final preparations.
Scotch pine, I recall her telling dad.
Best for keeping its needles.
She clipped red candles onto green sprigs,
placed small bowls of walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts
at the base of the tree.
A plate of Gingerbread treats for the reindeer.
A glass of schnapps for Santa.
Dad lit the candles … switched off the lights.
The small white flames flickered.
The coal fire spat, crackled, yellow-red.
The radio for company till bedtime
when the cuckoo-clock’s pine-cone weights
would be adjusted by dad.
I’d snuggle under my continental quilt,
the only one in our street.
In the morning the treats and schnapps were gone.
Frohe Weihnachten, mum would say, giving me a hug.
And of the presents left under the tree
my favourites were the books.
Usually an annual, The Broons, Oor Wullie,
The Beano or the Dandy
and their heady scent of newness.
But once, it was Around the World in Eighty Days.
A first hardback with an orange paper cover.
We’d listened to it on the radio weeks before.
Each week a different journey.
I remember the cracking of the spine.
The intoxicating smell
and the blackest of black-ink drawings.
Brian Whittingham, December 2015