Climbing Down

This holiday season, I will get into the holiday spirit.  Eventually.

Really, I will.

Any other year, I would have been nearly Christmas-ed out by this point.  Sick of Christmas Carols, offended by the over-commercialization of the holiday season, struggling to find places for all of my aunts’ hand-me-down ornaments that I couldn’t bear to let go.  I would have spent my evenings snuggled on the couch with my youngest child, pretending that I was watching all of those Rankin-Bass Christmas shows because he wanted to.

I’m just not feeling it this year.

I’ve gone to my kids’ holiday parties and band concerts at school, and I sat in the audience with my husband and the Upgrade and her little boy and my kids like some sort of modern Brady Bunch, and I had a really strange desire to hug her because she is really really nice and I almost believe that we are going to be able to make this “friendly divorce” business work.  But I’m not feeling any warm feelings when I see the lights and tinsel, and I haven’t bought any gifts yet.  I don’t even know what to buy for anyone.

I have put some thought into how many cups of Rum Chata-laced egg nog I can drink alone before I have to add alcoholism to my list of things to worry about.

For some reason, I keep thinking about a poem I read all the way back in high school:

Christ climbed down
from His bare Tree
this year
and ran away to where
there were no rootless Christmas trees
hung with candycanes and breakable stars

I couldn’t remember the rest of it, so I turned to Google and found that it was called “Christ Climbed Down”, written by Lawrence Ferlinghetti in 1958.  Then, because I am easily distracted and a poetry nerd, I went on to learn all kinds of things about Lawrence Ferlinghetti and his fellow Beat Poets, which then led to a binge on the works of e.e. cummings and others.  I finally stopped after bawling my way through “anyone lived in a pretty how town”, especially the part about how someones married their everyones.

When my marriage imploded, I thought I would be on my own by Christmas.  I pictured myself in a new home with a small, tasteful tree and understated, classy decorations.  Of course, tasteful, understated and classy are not words that anyone has ever used to describe anything I have ever done.  If it helps, I’ve always been a very elegant person in my imagination.  Especially after a few cups of egg nog with Rum Chata.

I had this great mental picture of myself being really cool about everything this first year, but it’s just not working out that way.  I’m still here, in the house I’ve shared with my husband for almost two decades.  We are up to our ears in boxes and clutter and uncertainty until there’s just no room for a tree.  We’ve hung the stockings and I try to remember to move that stupid elf to a new location every morning, but that’s about it.

Christ climbed down
from His bare Tree
this year
and ran away to where
there were no gilded Christmas trees
and no tinsel Christmas trees
and no pink plastic Christmas trees
and no gold Christmas trees
and no powderblue Christmas trees
hung with electric candles
and encircled by tin electric trains
and clever cornball relatives

This year is my Ferlinghetti Christmas.  I don’t want the plastic tree and Hallmark ornaments, and I swear to God I am going to kick the radio the next time I hear that moronic song about wanting a hippopotamus for Christmas.  I don’t want to see the flashing lights or that tacky little Nativity set we own that has Mary and Joseph as Native Americans in front of a teepee with a tiny papoose as the Baby Jesus.


I want Ferlinghetti’s bare tree with a simple star on top.  I want to hear Carols about Jesus, about Faith, about His love.  I don’t care about Santa or presents or wrapping paper or hippopatamii.

I will get into the Holiday Spirit at some point over the twelve days.  I swear.  But it’s going to be a different kind of Holiday Spirit this year.  Oh, I’m keeping the egg nog and Rum Chata – I’m buying it in bulk.  As for the rest of it – the decorations and the music and the presents and the forced gaiety of the whole thing – I’ve decided to let my husband have custody of it all this year.

This year, my Holiday Spirit is about trusting in God to watch over me and my loved ones to make sure that we all get through this as painlessly as possible.  It’s about learning to care about my husband as a friend instead of a lover, about forging a good relationship with his new love and trusting that we are all going to be adults about this.  It’s about having a good Christmas because of who we are and how we treat each other, not about the size of our rootless plastic tree or the amount of lights we can pile on it.

Christ climbed down
from His bare Tree
this year
and softly stole away into
some anonymous Mary’s womb again
where in the darkest night
of everybody’s anonymous soul
He awaits again
an unimaginable
and impossibly
Immaculate Reconception
the very craziest of
Second Comings

Author: A.J. Goode

I am a romance novelist, single mother of three, and a high school lunchlady. To be completely honest, I have no idea which of those jobs is the most rewarding and which is the biggest challenge. I love them all. I write romance novels about the kind of people who might pass me on the street every day. My characters are often hurting in some way, and need to learn to trust others in order to heal themselves. I also blog about trying to focus on writing, and about my day-to-day experiences in small-town America. I write about life. The good, the bad, and the just plain odd.

10 thoughts on “Climbing Down”

  1. This was a very moving post. I enjoy reading anyone honoring their feelings so honestly, though. I hope you are able to feel some joy this holiday season, even if it takes a few glasses of eggnog.


  2. Oh. My. Gosh. I can’t tell you how much I love, love, LOVE this post. It’s perfect. It’s about simplicity and hurting and trying to join in and not wanting to and it’s so exactlyprecisely where I’m at, and I so, so understand. Thank you HUGE for writing it, and for sharing that beautiful poem. I do. not. cry. at blogs. But this had me welling up with gratitude that you wrote it and I found it.

    Wishing you every blessing for a peaceful, simple Christmas.


  3. Divorce is a mid-January Christmas tree, isn’t it? I regret that you are struggling more than you expected but I am absolutely drawn in by this piece. Thank you for opening yourself up and writing it. Truly.


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