Archives for posts with tag: Christmas

Kristin Rushing
The Day Before Christmas
by Carol Alena Aronoff

I remember the steam engine my breath
made, puffing white clouds when I spoke.
Red noses, cold ears, the laughter of
roasting chicory nuts over oil drum fires.
My father’s felt hat with brim pulled low
against the bullish wind, galoshes over wing-
tipped shoes sloshing in mud-stained snow.

It was always last minute, herded in and out
of stores like wayward reindeer—my brother
and I, the cause of this frantic activity. The fun
was almost lost in Santa’s playhouse, threats
of no gifts if we misbehaved loomed large
as the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Plaza.
My mother, on a mission, balancing the books

of Chanukah and Christmas: the Chanukah bush,
aka Christmas tree, at the foot of my brother’s
trains enfolding presents wrapped in winter,
lit by a menorah. It seemed the best of both
worlds. I remember secret night sounds of brittle
paper, scissors snapping perfect squares.
Sleep fled before the promise of morning.

PHOTO: Twas the Night Before Christmas by Kristin Rushing.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem came to me as I was reflecting on Christmas holidays during my childhood. I remembered details of East Coast winters, the excitement and rush of getting ready for Christmas, the anticipation of gifts and treat-filled felt Christmas stockings.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Carol Alena Aronoff, Ph.D., is a psychologist, teacher, and poet. Her work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies and has won several prizes. She was twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Carol has published four chapbooks (Cornsilk, Tapestry of Secrets, Going Nowhere in the Time of Corona, A Time to Listen) and six full-length poetry collections: The Nature of Music, Cornsilk, Her Soup Made the Moon Weep, Blessings From an Unseen World, Dreaming Earth’s Body (with artist Betsie Miller-Kusz) as well as The Gift of Not Finding: Poems for Meditation. Currently, she resides in rural Hawaii.

Alice in Candyland
by Sharon Waller Knutson

King trumps Queen, my mother’s
younger brother, Uncle Jack
says as he teaches me to play poker.
But I prefer to watch his wife,
Aunt Alice, the woman
I want to be, as she removes
her wool coat after working
all week as the city treasurer.

She kicks off her snow boots
and heads for the kitchen
and I follow. I’m making taffy,
divinity and chocolate fudge
for the holidays. Want to help?
she asks me. I don’t know how,
I say. Don’t worry. I’ll teach you.

I slide on the icy sidewalk
separating our houses on Saturday.
Like a warm sweater, Alice’s big body
surrounds mine as she shows me
how to stir the sugar so it doesn’t
burn on the bottom of the saucepan.

As her strong hands hold mine
while we whip the egg whites to stiff
peaks, I feel the strength to stand
up to the bullies who call me Skinny
Stick and when we pull the taffy,
I feel the stamina to walk two miles
to school as the snow freezes into ice.

The misery of being a thirteen-year-old
feminist female in the fifties in a small town
melts like the sweet candy in my mouth
as we stand in the warm kitchen
forming a bond that can’t be broken
by distance, divorce or death, something
we didn’t know that snowy Saturday
when I learned to make candy with my aunt.

PHOTO: Christmas fudge by Dolphy.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is part of a collection of poems, The Leading Ladies in My Life, forthcoming in 2023, about my female relatives and how they played a part in who I am today. I was blessed to have an extended family that helped me survive the 1950s in a small town where a woman’s place was in the home. My paternal grandmother and my Aunt Alice were the women I most admired because they were independent, strong females who had careers, children, and husbands. I always wanted to leave town and make a living as a published writer, something I achieved thanks to the examples of Aunt Alice and Grandma Anna.

Knutson copy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sharon Waller Knutson is a retired journalist who lives in Arizona. She has published eight poetry books including My Grandmother Smokes Chesterfields (Flutter Press 2014), What the Clairvoyant Doesn’t Say  and Trials & Tribulations of Sports Bob (both Kelsay Books 2021) and Survivors, Saints and Sinners and Kiddos & Mamas Do the Darndest Things (both Cyberwit 2022). Her work has also appeared in Discretionary Love, Impspired, GAS Poetry, Art and Music, The Rye Whiskey Review, Black Coffee Review, Terror House Review, Trouvaille Review, ONE ART, Mad Swirl, The Drabble, Gleam, Spillwords, Muddy River Review, Verse-Virtual, Your Daily Poem, Red Eft Review, and The Five-Two.

by Wendy Stewart

For Christmas we make marzipan fruits.
They are as big as my thumbs.

Apples are round and red,
like apples. I get it.

Plums are purple like plums.
I like them best.
Bananas are yellow and long.

I say grapes and she laughs.
I get it. They’d be so little.

Once she says Oh! That one
I thought must be a real plum.

She puts them on the glass tray.
They stay set on the cold porch.

When company comes,
we offer them our candies.
She holds the tray.

I tell how my mum
was fooled by my plum:
That one.

PHOTO: Marzipan fruits by Fiery Phoenix.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote “Sweets” when my daughter was little, perhaps littler than I was in this poem, and I was missing my mother. It is a fond memory. It struck me that you don’t know what’s going to stick with a person all their lives, or how what sticks can encourage them—or not—in ways you can’t foresee.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Originally from Canada, since 2007 Wendy Stewart has made her home in New York State. She’s published poems, creative nonfiction, essays, humor, and artwork in Our Voices,, San Pedro River Review, and The Afterlife of Discarded Objects, a digital collective story-telling project and book.


“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!”
 CHARLES DICKENS, A Christmas Carol

Read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens for free at

Image found at London Walking Tours.

Happy holidays!


Soon It Will Be
by Thomas O’Connell

The snow is falling; big flakes in straight lines, like cartoon snow.

Each department store window is a reliquary. We admire the elves for their mechanical dedication to the fulfillment of our desires. In the midst of it all is a train whose every destination implies gingerbread. “Silver Bells” is playing over loudspeakers, hidden on columns amongst garland and colored balls. The man behind the counter watches us, sure that we are thieves; we are, but steal nothing during the season. On the corner outside we watch the street lamp, hypnotized by the constancy of the falling snow.

Nothing in our lives will ever be as difficult as pulling on the second mitten.

SOURCE: Originally published in The Linnet’s Wings.

PHOTO: Stocking, 1964.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Thomas O’Connell is a librarian living on the banks of the Hudson River in Beacon, New York, where he happens to be the 2015-2016 poet laureate. His poetry and short fiction have appeared in Elm Leaves Journal, Caketrain, NANO Fiction, The Broken Plate, and The Los Angeles Review, as well as other print and online journals.

Visiting Santa with My Sister

Christmas Morning, 1988
by Kristina England

Like a fashionista gone off her rocker, my grandmother does it again. She buys us matching dresses. My sister, sixteen months older, is skinny as a rail. I still have my “baby fat” at seven.

Each year, my grandmother buys a purple dress and a green one. My sister picks first and, though we both love purple, she wins on age alone. I trudge to my room, green rug, green walls, place the dress on my green bedspread. My parents assume I like green.

I walk back to the living room, where my grandmother is digging through chocolates. She bites into each, spits out the ones she doesn’t like with a “Pah.” Always hungry, I eye the oozing remains. She wipes her mouth. “I have one more present,” she says, handing us coin banks.

I run back to my room, place it next to three other banks — a silver train, Mickey Mouse, and my favorite, Cabbage Patch Kid.

I find my sister in the hall. She is trudging, too. We return to my grandmother, give her a kiss on each cheek. We tell her we love her gifts. We learn how to lie at a very young age.

PHOTO: The author (left) and her sister visiting Santa in the 1980s.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This is one of many memories I’ve conjured up after my grandmother’s passing last winter. She was a quirky woman and this prose piece is just a glimpse of that quirkiness.

Kristina England1 2015

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kristina England lives, bikes, and sails in Worcester, Massachusetts. Her poetry, fiction, and nonfiction have been published in several magazines, including Gargoyle, Moon Pigeon Press, Tipton Poetry Journal, and Yellow Mama. She is a regular contributor to the flash fiction magazine, Story Shack in Germany. Her first chapbook of flash fiction, Stanley Stanley’s Investigative Services, was published in September 2014 by Poet’s Haven Press in Ohio.

Christmas 1956
by Lynne Viti

My father opened his wallet to show me
a hundred dollar bill.
I thought he was rich, and said so.
Naw, he answered and carefully
slid the crisp paper back into its leather sleeve.

Christmas morning
my sister and I opened box after box.
Angora sweaters, knee socks
Ricky Nelson LP for me,
roller skates for her.

My mother gave Dad pajamas,
socks, a hand-warmer gadget
for Colt games at Memorial Stadium.

When it was all over
paper detritus littering rose-colored carpet,
Dad pointed to the back of the Christmas tree
wedged against the long drapes
at the picture window
so the colored lights were on display
for all of Hilltop Avenue to see.

Merry Christmas, Mom, he said quietly.
My mother jumped up, almost
tripping over her long robe,
laughed when it came into her view,
that hundred dollar bill, clipped to the tree
by a Shaker clothespin.

Not for paying the bills, Dad said.
Now Mom was rich.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: My younger sister Anne and me on Christmas Day in the 1950s. Lipstick added, why? Because Mom let us—after all, it was Christmas!

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I’d been working on family-centered poems, and last holiday season this one popped into my head—an image of my late mother, on Christmas morning, running across the living room to retrieve a crisp one hundred dollar bill from the Christmas tree. In today’s money, that would be about $859! This was a generous gift for a blue-collar guy like my dad to give my mom. To this day I suspect she used some of it to pay off bills, despite his admonition not to.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lynne Viti, a graduate of Barnard College and Boston College Law School, teaches in the Writing Program at the Wellesley College in Massachusetts. Her writing—poetry, fiction and creative non fiction— has appeared in a variety of print and online venues, including Callinectes Sapidus (ed. Rafael Alvarez), The Wire: Urban Decay and American Television (ed. Tiffany Potter and C.W. Marshall), Subterranean Blue Poetry, Three Drops in a Cauldron, Paterson Review (forthcoming), Damfino journal, The Lost Country, Irish Literary Review, The Song Is, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, Hedgerow, Star 82 Review, Poetry Pacific, Yoga Magazine, Connections Magazine, WILLA, Sojourner News, Meat for Tea: The Valley Review, Barefoot Review, Drunk Monkeys, Grey Sparrow Review, Connections, The Baltimore Sun, and in a curated exhibit at Boston City Hall. She blogs at (Author photo by Richard Howard)

photomccarthy family
One Christmas
by Mary McCarthy

He broke our hearts
Bringing home an aluminum tree
With its own light bulb
And cellophane color wheel
That turned and lit
Those tinfoil branches
Blue and red and green
So proud, he said
You didn’t need

We couldn’t smile
We wanted a real tree
That would smell like pine
And drop real needles
On the artificial snow
Even our old
Skinny wire and papery green
Fake tree would have been better
There was so much space
Between those flimsy branches
To hang the glittering
Almost weightless
Glass-fragile balls
Room to twist the lights
And carefully place the icicles

Set between the mirror
And the window
It sang and echoed light
Real and reflected
So much more beautiful
Than it ever should have been

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This photo is from an earlier Christmas than the one described in the poem. I am in the middle, my sister Dorothy is at the left in my mother’s lap, and my sister Margie is on right in my dad’s lap. We were born in 1950, 1951 and 1952 — the first three out of an eventual seven siblings!

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Christmas in our family could be both the best and the worst of times — the pressures of festivity sometimes too much for the cracks in our foundations.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary McCarthy has always been a writer, though she spent most of her working life as a Registered Nurse. She has published work in many journals, including Earth’s Daughters, Caketrain, and The Birmingham Review, as well as online journals Heart,  Gnarled Oak, and Right Hand Pointing. 


Christmas on Hydra
by Sofia Kioroglou

Christmas on Hydra.
Fingers interlocked
squeezing tightly
I and you
looking at
the shimmering sea
kissing each other as
passersby are surreptitiously
stealing a look at our eternal bliss
swathed in mufflers
with breaths misting up
the crisp winter air.
I and you
into each other forever
during this holiday season.

PHOTO: The author on Hydra last Christmas.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Poet Sofia Kioroglou is a writer, translator, lexicographer, and painter born and bred in Athens, Greece. A lover of the countryside, she tried several times to escape from the soul-destroying dog-eat-dog atmosphere of this mundane urban life. Her first trip to Jerusalem in 2010 changed her whole perspective on life and gave a new dimension to her existence. Most of her poems are philosophical with religious overtones. At the moment, she is bound up in putting together her own poetry chapbook. Some of her poems have won commendations and honourable mentions in several reputable poetry competitions and are featured on various poetry websites. Visit her at, which features some of her English and Greek poems.


The Light That Failed
by Kathryn Kulpa

One Christmas — I might have been four or five — I became obsessed with a particular light on the tree. These were old-school Christmas lights, teardrop-shaped, nightlight-sized, and this bulb was the perfect color: a deep amber, not quite yellow, not quite orange, the shade of turmeric or saffron or a fat ginger cat. Only one bulb seemed to be that color. Maybe it was left over from an older light set; maybe it was a design flaw. Whatever the reason, it was my light. And I reminded my parents, as they were putting the tree up, to make sure my light was in the front, where I could see it.

I was banished during the tree assembly. It was dark when I was invited back. The tree was lit, decorated, ready for tinsel. But my light — the glowing amber beacon of my all my vague aesthetic longing — faced the back wall. I wailed at the unfairness.

The lights fit together a certain way, my mother said. It was too late to unplug them all and start again. The tree sparkled, red and blue and green and ordinary yellow. I sat on the floor behind the tree, back to the wall, gazing up at the light — my light — like Gatsby watching Daisy’s green light at the end of some impossible dock.

I’m not sure if my amber light strike lasted days or an hour. I only know that the next time I saw the tree, there my light was, out in front, blazing down on me in all its saffron-turmeric glory, glowing like fool’s gold, like a promise that, for the rest of my life, the world would rearrange itself to please me.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: In this photo, I look about five, and from the rapt expression on my face, I’m guessing that the Christmas tree light I’m focused on is THE light.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This would not be my last artistic obsession, but it’s probably the first, or at least the first I remember.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kathryn Kulpa was a recent winner in the Paper Nautilus Vella Chapbook Contest, and her flash collection Girls on Film will be published in 2016. She is also a contributor to Smokelong Quarterly, KYSO Flash, Literary Orphans, and The Great Gatsby Anthology from Silver Birch Press. You can read more of her work at