One more thought on Christmas before we move onto New Year’s and I resume my goodbye posts.
The first Christmas without Mom was hard. All the fly-fishing family members from Wyoming came down — something we’d talked about for years but never managed to actually do. Until then. That Christmas was one of gloom (missing Mom) and joy (everyone gathered together).
Three Christmases later, when Every Day Poems featured “The Oxen” by Thomas Hardy, I saved it because it includes the word “gloom,” which is as much a part of the holiday season as all the joy, especially when we are remembering a person who isn’t there. I reread the poem recently. It wears well.
Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock.
“Now they are all on their knees,”
An elder said as we sat in a flock
By the embers in hearthside ease.
We pictured the meek mild creatures where
They dwelt in their strawy pen,
Nor did it occur to one of us there
To doubt they were kneeling then.
So fair a fancy few would weave
In these years! Yet, I feel,
If someone said on Christmas Eve,
“Come; see the oxen kneel,
“In the lonely barton by yonder coomb
Our childhood used to know,”
I should go with him in the gloom,
Hoping it might be so.
Gloom, we know. Joy, we work for.