"The magi, as you know, were wise men - wonderfuly wise men who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents."
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I love the Christmas season; I really do. I think part of it may be because I have a December birthday as well, so it’s a festive season times two for me. Though I’ll admit that growing up, I always felt a little cheated when it came to presents. I mean, my parents were super about making sure my birthday (the 15th) and Christmas were two completely different and separate days of celebration. Still, I always envied the kids who got to have pool parties for their summer birthdays. Plus, they got gifts every 6 months or so. Me? All jammed together within 10 days.
However, the gift thing actually became an interesting barometer for the guys I dated when I got older. Anyone who tried to give me one gift to cover both birthday and Christmas wasn’t going to stick around long. I actually had one guy write “For Birthday/Christmas” on the tag. I mean, come on! Would he have tried to pull the same thing if I’d been born in March?
My future husband, however, knew instinctively that they were to be celebrated as two completely different occasions. I knew there was a reason I married him…
As a gift to myself this December, I picked up “Good Poems for Hard Times” edited by Garrison Keillor. Didn’t even know the book existed, but I was browsing in a local bookstore and stumbled across it. Keillor’s introduction itself is worth the $12 price tag. He talks about how poetry -- really, all writing -- should be accessible to everyone, not a mystery for academics in ivory towers to puzzle over.
And so the choices he’s made to include are varied and wonderful. Here’s one of my favorites:
“After Love” (by Maxine Kumin)
Afterward, the compromise.
Bodies resume their boundaries.
These legs, for instance, mine.
Your arms take you back in.
Spoons of our fingers, lips,
admit their ownership.
The bedding yawns, a door
blows aimlessly ajar
and overhead, a plane
singsongs coming down.
Nothing is changed, except
there was a moment when
the wolf, the mongering wolf
who stands outside the self
lay lightly down, and slept.