sometimes you strain to garner magic
that supposed-to-be-moment
of days set aside to remind
us of this or that but snug
within your core of pretend-this-is-special
simmers a memory, an understanding
that this frou-frou feeling
inauthentic grasping of what-used-to-be
stands for something more.

down the street at the end of the cul-de-sac
an old woman lives alone
a mostly dark house with tight-closed
shutters and peeling paint
shielded from neighbors’ bright-light-christmas
oh-so-white reindeer on the lawn
rearranged by kids one block over

wrapping paper
neglected now in disarray

in the kitchen an argument ensues
it’s too early to put the turkey
in the oven remember last year
how dry it was

from the den loud snores
uncle jack drank too much again
same as always

in here
my thoughts prowl meaning
sun pours through the half-moon
window above the door
that later in the day
will welcome others
we haven’t seen or spoken to
in months

my dogs relax
cuddled at my side
backlit by rays
content and cared-for
knowing we are present

i get it then
that’s what today is all about

This is not meant to be a downer, but rather to look beyond the fluff of holiday celebrations and get to the meaning behind them. I’m linking this to dVerse Poetics and to my own prompt on Presents vs. Presence. Also to Gooseberry Gardens where the prompt is Holiday Traditions. .

Merry Christmas, all. I hope you do get to taste the magic of the holidays.

36 thoughts on “Presents

  1. Luke Prater says:

    I really appreciate that you are machette’ing your way through the cloying jungle of festive bullshit and offering a take on some real meaning behind it. You know how I feel about it all… you read my Xmas poems… hehe… excellent stuff… keep it up V


  2. hedgewitch says:

    I like the textured thoughts this struggles to reveal, the deeper sense of ritual and our equally deep need for it behind all the stylized actions and reactions, that you uncover here. The title is perfect, too.


  3. Yes that is what its all about today. Great images you have captured like still lives being lived simultaneously. thanks for sharing. Wish you have a great new year ahead…. May you have peace, love and prosperity …

    ॐ नमः शिवाय
    Om Namah Shivaya
    At Twitter @VerseEveryDay


  4. Baishali says:

    It’s definitely not the downer but reality all the way through … wonderfully depicted …. season’s greetings for you.


  5. Lindy Lee says:

    Good, Victoria– it’s an imperfect life we live but beats the unknown of death…


  6. Sheila Moore says:

    oh, Vickie, this is such a precious reminder of what is really important not only at the holidays but everyday of the year – to know that as long as we work and rest in the sunlight of the spirit, all is well (even if uncle jack drinks too much and the turkey is dry again this year 😉 )


  7. zongrik says:

    the right gift is sometimes an act of magic


  8. Steve King says:

    This captures so much that is memorable about the season…I love the figure of sunlight coming through the half-moon window. It’s an unusual and creative accent that lends a hint of another dimension underlying everything about the time. You zero in nicely on what’s important. It all works its way toward a satisfying and comforting conclusion. Happy New Year to you, and we’ll see you in 2012.


  9. beckykilsby says:

    my thoughts prowl meaning

    …. think you’ve found it beautifully in this piece Victoria. Very much enjoyed the striving ‘oh-so’ voices… lol…


  10. Mohana says:

    Poignant…beautiful the way you bring out sentiments, emotions so well, so brilliantly well.


  11. Margaret says:

    It seemed like we were peeking in windows… And it is about being together, giving the gift of ourselves. Merry Christmas.


  12. Zouxzoux says:

    Love the image of you cuddling with your dogs – isn’t that just the best? The tone of your poem is so calming and non-judgmental as you accept your family for who they are. That is a special talent not all have. Happy New Year to you!


  13. greeting from Malaysia =)


  14. woodrow says:

    “sun pours through the half-moon
    window above the door”

    you create a lot of great contrast between the ideas of present and presence, the above lines were my favorite in that regard. great flow and movement. enjoyed very much


  15. tashtoo says:

    This is my time! The big day is done, the friends and family have had their way with me, and now I get to breathe. These are the moments I cherish…with a day job that goes 24/7 for 50 weeks of the year, you learn to appreciate the down time! And I am loving the novel lady! Another treat this little break has allowed 🙂


  16. siggiofmaine says:

    I enjoyed this group of remembrances…
    that is what life is like not the greeting card soppy kind
    of things that may happen once or twice in most peoples lives,
    but what they are looking for every year and are disappointed
    that fairy tales don’t always happen.

    I like the realistic Uncle Jack,
    the wrappings,
    the argument in the kitchen realities
    but make good memories…fond memories.

    Peace and love,
    Siggi in Downeast Maine


  17. I enjoyed the way you took us into each vignette…a wonderful stylistic choice.


  18. rosemarymint says:

    So true. Every day, every moment is about being present.

    This is absolutely awesome:
    “in here
    my thoughts prowl meaning”


  19. Oh, Victoria! This is a splendid piece! Love it! I applaud the use of contrast and realism that we should all open our eyes to. Fabulous work!!!


  20. jenneandrews says:

    Nudges at memory and yet is a bit playful with the heart, the art– excellent! The worst thing about Christmases past for me was how we all abandoned each other by drinking and getting depressed, so that the elation and anticipation and wonderment of the Midnight become morning, the hints at love– fell apart. Thankfully, the only two of us left, my brother and me– are free of the darkness of alcohol but not other shades of said darkness. xxxj mine’s up at


  21. ManicDdaily says:

    “thoughts prowl meaning” and back-lit dogs–a lovely activity and picture. K.


  22. brian miller says:

    swinging through on OLN and hope that you are having a lovely day victoria…and enjoying time with those you love…


  23. vivinfrance says:

    Certainly not a downer, Victoria. I found your thoughtful piece just right. Thank you.


  24. I liked how your hyphenated word strings (pretend-this-is-special, cul-de-sac, oh-so-white) were like little brown paper packages tied up with string. And the poem’s progression — had a great day yesterday just baking cakes and making clove apples with a friend I hadn’t seen in some time.


  25. Ruth says:

    Lovely take on presents vs presence… I do rather think that if we feel ourselves in the midst of superficiality (at Christmas or at any other time), a moment of reflection can put us right – there is never anything superficial in the present.


  26. Bodhirose says:

    I like the last part too about the peaceful, cuddled dogs feeling your presence. Cats and dogs know what’s true and important in life…the simple things. I’m taking my cue from Sita!

    Thanks, Victoria…you expressed the myriad acts of the season all too well.


  27. You describe so perfectly the way my Christmas days used to be. Now they are much more quiet. Subdued. No Gift Carnage. No Slave-Cooking. Just a day of simple meals and small tokens of thoughtfulness. Oh, and lots of story-telling and laughter.

    I love this new tradition that I suspect is closer to the traditions of yester-year than what most people do today…

    Nicely done. I love the last part. Dog teach us how to be better at living in the moment, don’t they?


  28. Harish G. says:

    a lovely piece Victoria, profoundly illustrating the various segments.
    A Merry Christmas to you 🙂


  29. Morning says:

    being present and available is a blessing,

    love your take,
    best regards.

    Hope that you enjoy an amazing evening.


  30. Mary says:

    I very much enjoyed your poem. It is reality, definitely not a downer, just telling life as it is. I appreciate that. Wishing you a Merry Christmas.


  31. brian says:

    i hear you…in many ways i see this the…the holiday has almost become a joke with retail and general what not…nice write victoria…pings my heart…and hope you have a very merry christmas


  32. Angela says:

    Your poem drew me in with the strong paint brush of your words and vivid imagery. I love these lines:

    “in here
    my thoughts prowl meaning”

    If this is all any of us do, for any day we walk through with habit, then we shall sleep having learned a little more.
    Great piece!


  33. Yes, that is what it’s all about–peaceful times. Wonderful write!


  34. Heaven says:

    I understand the superficiality of the season. I am just thankful that my family knows what is real and special about this day..and that we are all together~

    Wishing you Merry Christmas and Cheers for the New year ~


  35. claudia says: the new blog layout…feels like spring over here now…
    and love, love, love the poem…the bound-together-words and the line breaks give it a very special feeling – and great message to look beyond the sparkle…hope you’re enjoying the christmas days victoria


  36. souldipper says:

    A friend just left after another gift exchange. “inauthentic grasping” is a great name for the theme of our chat during the peaceful hour together. I put out an edict this year…”only Love to be exchanged and if it HAS to be in hard gift form, let it be something you own. In which case, goodness knows what possession of mine you’ll receive.”

    My heart goes out to the lone soul who some younger folk find invisible and disposable. It’s an art to have a voice without a “broom”! 😀

    Thank you for the depth and purpose you express so beautifully, Victoria. You are an incredible asset in my blogging life…well, it’s more than that. We may be blogging buddies, but you spill so elegantly into my heart and flow into my life of flesh and bone. You are sustenance.


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