In honor of the winter holidays, let’s write a poem celebrating one. Stumped for ideas? You won’t be for long.
Jot down your very brief answers to the following questions:
- What is the first time you remember celebrating this holiday?
- Who was there with you?
- Which was your most traditional holiday? celebration of this
- What is the favorite scent you remember from this holiday?
- What was the most special gift you received during this holiday?
- What is your favorite sound associated with this holiday?
- What is the favorite food or beverage you associate with this holiday?
- What is the holiday decoration you remember best from this holiday?
- What texture or tactile memory do you have of this holiday?
My answers were:
- The year my Dad hung balloons and streamers from the ceiling for Christmas morning.
- My little sister and two older brothers and our parents.
- The first one I remember.
- The smell of the blue spruce tree branches.
- A huge stuffed panda bear.
- The metal bells we got to hang from the lower branches that would tinkle as we swept by.
- Pumpkin pie topped with whipped cream.
- The angel hair spider webs that diffused the light around the oil-bubbling candle tree lights.
- The cozy feel of red and white candy-striped flannel nightgowns
Now, work these memories into a free-verse poem. Nothing has to rhyme. You can rearrange or delete or add more ideas as you go along. Try for a natural flow and pleasing sound of the words you choose.
Here’s my poem:
The Big Christmas
Santa came! Santa came! I shout with my four-year old squeal
Streamers cascade from the ceiling where balloons hover,
Held in place by static electricity and pieces of tape
The room, to me, a fairyland of bubble lights and halos
Pungent scent of blue spruce tree, needles sticky
Tinkling bells as we pull out presents
My package wrapped in bright paper so big I ask,
Is it a horse?
No horse, better yet, a giant panda, black and white
Contrasting with the chaos of color around me
The memory of my sister and me, in our peppermint-striped
Flannel nightgowns as we hug our new stuffed animal friends
My brothers follow two strings leading outside,
To discover bicycles hung in the trees
Our excitement intoxicating my parents as they share
A Christmas hot toddy and slice of pumpkin pie
Smiles tired but satisfied,
At this big Christmas
©2011 Lin Neiswender
When you are satisfied with your poem, print it out or email it to the people with whom you share these memories. It will be a holiday gift to them like no other. Perhaps you’ll inspire them to write their special poems too.