Amy Barlow Liberatore… stories of lost years, wild times, mental variety, faith, and lots of jazz

Tag Archives: Christmas

Image used by permission of Wikimedia Commons, thanks to KLNMAX

Christmas Traditions…

The era after World War II
when “I’ll be home for Christmas” came true
People craved security
Best shown beneath the Christmas tree

War-worn dads took comfort in
their jobs, affording clatter and din
of toys beneath the Douglas fir:
endless bounty for him and her

The dolly really wet her diaper!
A toy gun for a future sniper
Pink for girls and blue for boys,
tearing paper off new toys

Thus was born a new tradition:
Lots more gifts! Spend with ambition!
As songs of Santa replaced carols
Jesus was lost, all was sterile

Once, one gift, just one – no more
Now Christmas spent at mall and store
This season is depressing; why?
Because the Christ child gets passed by

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

You know most people are burnt out on pseudo-Christmas by now. The constant post-Thanksgiving pop music. The who-can-buy-the-most-presents crap. Endless parades of ugly sweaters destined for the Goodwill shop.

The Longest Night, also called Blue Christmas, is a Christian service on the Solstice, this year Saturday. If you’re not feeling “holly jolly,” if you want to get a little Jesus back in the equation, check out a service. Lots of homeless folks, people who’ve lost loved ones, who’ve lost jobs… people who are simply soured on the commercialism, all get together and share stories.   It might be the best Christmas present you give yourself this year… and let me know how it turns out.

No prompt for this one.  Just sending it out into the ether(net) and hoping you don’t get “the Christmas Blues” like so many.  Peace, Amy



Sleeping on a park bench
Living in a Chevy beater
Winter covers each with
an unwanted blanket of snow

Downtown, shoppers
pay them no mind; while
searching for deep discounts,
they discount these folks

Tonight, under starlight that
sets the frost a-twinkle with
thousands of crystals, remember
Jesus is sleeping under cardboard

not too far from here…

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Michael Crawford sings this song with heart, with understanding.  May we all remember the homeless during this HOHOHO season of frenzied gift giving, as we fatten our credit card balances buying crap made by child slave labor in China.

For ABC Wednesday, the letter U.  Pick one:  Underfed, Underemployed, Under stress, Under cardboard boxes.  Also “in the margins” at Imaginary Garden With Real Toads and Poets United.  Peace, Amy

Five BSODs (Blue Screens of Death, so, grammatically speaking, perhaps it’s BSsOD) in two days, and my computer was out for the weekend… and then some. So glad to be back.

About comments… I am hopelessly behind in replying! I’ll peruse and visit you all, but if I ever hope to get a chapbook together (and most people don’t read responses anyway, which is fine), I will take a break on the last few poems and start fresh. If anyone has a comment on that policy, please let me know. Hey, take it from me: Don’t hold back; tell me what you REALLY feel!

A peaceful Independence Day to my US friends, and prayers for folks in Colorado who are suffering with wildfires, as well as all who are in the grip of this heat wave. Peace, Amy


Mom’s crimson best, one sister
colors the other’s lips with the delicacy of Monet

Big sis hanging from
the branch of an apple tree

Small moments
The ways of children
A gesture, a look
Laughter caught in
grimaces of belly-aching joy

Little sis tries to puff powder
on the older girl, whose skin

needs no embellishment
but whose soul craves it

These moments
This places, close to heaven
A wink, a giggle, teasing
A kick under the table
An unforeseen hug from behind

They stand still for the Easter snapshot
Shoulders almost touching, like troops

The Christmas tree, stringing red lights
Middle sis rearranging tinsel “until it’s perfect”

Brief moments caught
by the old Ansco camera
Sweet, looking back
Who knew? Who could guess
how far apart they would grow?

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
For dverse Open Mic Night – and for Poets United’s Poetry Pantry.

Season’s Grumblings

With each passing year, diminishing cheer:
I feel less festive at Christmastime.

Perhaps it’s the sprawl of malls,
gaudy displays of “Holiday Cheer,”

a politically correct wink,
as though I’m supposed to know they

really mean “Merry Christmas,” but
corporate beliefs leave them no choice.

No voices ringing with carols, but a veritable
barrel of secular songs: Motown, Nashville, or worse still,

Burl Ives (that rumpled fool who sang like a choir boy
during the Red Scare) offering “Yuletide cheer.”

Or Maurice “I’m an entertainer, even when the audience
is all Nazis” Chevalier pretending he’s fun and nice.

Santa’s real elves are exploited Chinese child labor.
Neighbor, don’t listen to me. I’ve little glee.

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Three Word Wednesday challenged us with Belief, Festive, and Rumple. Ha! I took up the challenge and delivered this exquisite poetic case of heartburn. What a Grinch! For those who are believers, have yourselves a Merry Christmas, and remember whose birthday it is, teach your children. And if you’re a secular Christmas person, hey, pay no neve-rmind to me, except for the part about the Chinese kids. Peace, Amy

Poetic Bloomings asked us how we are preparing for the “holiday season.”  We celebrate Hanukkah and Christmas and would love to get in on some Kwanzaa action, so somebody invite us!  Here’s my take, and it’s posted in full on the Poetic Bloomings site.

Also, the old form “3 = x + poem” I invented didn’t go over, in part because it was a stupid name! It is now called the Barlette, in honor of my dad, Bud Barlow, who could recite verse upon verse of Kipling and Service.

Preparations, Busy Lady (a Barlette)

So many items tempt me
at the small shops on State.
Thusfar, these are some:
(of the sum total)

Warm socks for homeless men
and women, so desperate are these
forgotten people in need.
(Mary and Joseph)

Diapers – disposable, as baby’s
parents are provided a garbage bin
by the City of Madison.
(swaddling baby Jesus)

Donations, dough for digs that
ministers are hunting out and heating;
shelters, daytime rest and a hot meal.
(Magi, bearing gifts)

A homeless man died on a bench in front of
the Capitol Dome (ironic unless you live here);
Gov. charges $75 for “advocacy groups” to enter.
(No room at his inn)

If ever there was a season for advocacy,
for caring for the poor and despairing,
if not now – when? One prayer to offer.
(Christmas is about giving “Jesus style”)

© Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

Also at my poetic nest, Poets United.

Poetic Bloomings asked for a poem about traditions; the Sunday Whirl tossed this motley group of words at us: amorous, subtle, genuflect, precipice, inkling, vanilla, mission, December, laden, bark, crusted, trivet. A retelling of the kind of family dust-up that eventually goes from legend to a smile, this is dedicated to the memory of my former mother-in-law, Hanna Weinberger; and in honor of her husband, Len, and Rob and his fantastic second wife, Donna. Peace and twinkly lights, Amy (P.S. Lex and I also light a menorah to this day, in Riley’s honor.)

Christmas Tree With a Schmear

“Will I have to genuflect to it?” she grimaced.
An inking of the controversy to come, December of ’86.
My mission, to host my husband’s folks and to
decorate our Christmas tree. No big deal, right?

Intermarriage: He, a Jew; I, a pseudo-Christian.
(His faith only observed when his mom set
the Passover table, lit by silver candlesticks,
laden with luscious food on fancy trivets.)

But every year, my vanilla faith called for a tree.
My Episcopalian upbringing had brought me to this:
On Christmas Eve I’d sneak into church;
in the spring we watched “Easter Parade” on TV.

Interfaith civil wedding: A generic Man of God
found in the yellow pages; a hoopah in our living room
(no rabbi or minister without promises of Hebrew or
Sunday school… not ready to even have kids!).

We lugged home the best (cheapest) tree in Queens;
its bark shredded during trunk-shoving, leaking
pestilent, resinous sap. My allergic splotches
crusted over just in time for The Big Party.

Mom was less than amorous about the whole affair.
She felt her shiksa daughter-in-law had exposed a subtle agenda:
Trying to make her son revere a tree that (apparently)
was a symbol of Jesus on the cross. With tinsel and lights.

They entered with trepidation; this was a precipice in our
relationship. I had gone to every Seder, Hanukkah… and
my husband loved having a tree (the pagan aspect, too).
Within ten minutes, we had gravitated to places of safety:

Mom, smoking a cigarette, looking at the wall, peeking
out of the corner of her eye in downright disgust. Wife
telling stories of each ornament; husband happy, stringing lights.
Dad, singing along with a Crosby record, “White Christmas.”

Ain’t compromise a wonderful thing?

© 2011 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil