While this blog might not show it with all its celebrations of great / fun / hot things, I am a cynic at heart (tempering my cynicism was actually the catalyst for this blog). My cynicism often keeps me from wholly embracing holidays. I tend to wear black on Valentine’s Day and roll my eyes with great gusto (cue Liz Lemon) at the plethora of autumnal pumpkin-flavored frivolities that Trader Joe’s produces in an effort to make unwitting customers spend more money on items that they most definitely do not need. I was recently accused — in good fun — on Twitter for waging a war against Christmas when I tweeted that Love Actually is a dumb movie, actually. Got lots of pushback on that one. People love them some Colin Firth and Hugh Grant… not that I can blame anyone for that.
But in all seriousness, I am tired seeing people treat Christmas as little more than a feeble justification for rampant consumerism, cheesy decor, tacky art, gluttony, debauchery, and general excess.
My skeptical self was ready to forgo getting a tree altogether, though I caved (Food Lion, FTW). But I haven’t fully rejected all holiday traditions — I’ve already made my annual batch of chocolate peppermint cookies, bought tickets to see The Birth on Friday (Charlotte friends, go!), will most definitely listen to Sedaris read The Santaland Diaries, and will try and squeeze in viewings of Joyeux Noel and It’s a Wonderful Life. Oh, and I’m currently playing the Vince Guaraldi Trio, so I’m not all Scrooge.
All those things are so hot right now, consequently. But the real reason for this post is to laud the newsweethottness that is Advent poetry.
I’ve been reading a lot more poetry this year, and have come across some really beautiful works that I think are worth meditating on and sharing with others. To help keep my cynicism at bay and ground myself in some of the more significant aspects of Christmas (i.e., GOD INCARNATE), I have been mulling over a different poem each week and sending them out to friends and family for the season of Advent.
And so a new tradition begins.
Here is the poem I sent out this for this week, Advent 3, written by Davidson Professor Emeritus Anthony Abbott.
At The Christmas Party
by Anthony Abbott
of the book club that doesn’t read books,
the ladies introduce their men
who with the ladies consume much
wine and enjoy staccato bursts
of conversation. The poet is baffled.
He cannot make words in this festive
scene. He moves from room to room
spinning in his mind like a dervish.
Living room, dining room, kitchen,
den, guest bedroom, and back again.
He listens to the break neck talk,
the roars of laughter at what must
be something he has completely
missed once more. He can make words
from the turning leaves of the soul
but this he cannot fathom. What
can they think of to say that brings
such smirks, such grins, such open
mouthed chewing? What news
from Bethlehem? Where do the kings
lodge tonight? Will they tell all
to Herod? Who will there be to warn
the children, to cry to the nursing
mothers—pluck up your babes
and leave before the soldiers rattle
in with their copper armor and their
thick heads. The poet wants to shout
“Fire!” and watch them all disperse
into the tumbling rain and fog out there.
But he keeps his peace. Instead he
knocks on God’s door three times
to give thanks for the strange child
who must have hammered nails himself
before the nails hammered him
and sent the world reeling into darkness.
Source: If Words Could Save Us, by Anthony Abbott. Davidson, NC: Lorimer Press, 2011.