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The First Christmas
Jayne Jaudon Ferrer


Uncertain, she stands cross-armed,
the big box of all that was their Christmas together—
for fifty-six years, seven months, and five days—before her.
Lips pursing, then stretching taut, she inhales,
then sits and slowly unlaps the worn pasteboard flaps
he interlocked last New Year’s Day.
How can it be Christmas? How can there be carols
and decorations and joy when her heart is an empty tomb?
Wet, her shadowed eyes catch sight
of a tiny black velvet boot.
Unbidden, a smile plays across her rigid mouth. Memories come
of the many branches from which Kris Kringle’s diminutive boot
has dangled, of the many chubby hands
whose grasps have crushed its nap.
Stirred, her fingers follow another sighting: a knobby stone,
glue-studded and smudged with dirt.
Garnished with raveled gold rick-rack, the little rock
lights her heart and spawns a grin.
“It looks like an angel!” their youngest exclaimed
the summer he’d plucked it from an icy stream.
“Does not. It’s a ghost!”
“You’re crazy. It’s a bird!”
And thus the argument ensued.
By Christmas, the only point on which they had agreed was that
the little rock belonged upon the tree—
a recurring testament to that good time had by all.
The rock found a place of honor every year—
its form perennially debated, its legacy now priceless.
Instinctively, her time-mottled, trembling hand engulfs it, embraces
all that lies within this mummied cache—not just the beat-up,
bucktoothed pine cones . . . squashed, shredded cotton puff snowmen…
sagging, threadbare stockings…peeling, bulbous lights—
but the images and indulgences and affinities and affection
laced through every layer.  Inhaling again, with purpose this time,
she grabs one flap of the box on either end and
drags its unwieldy mass into the den. It can be Christmas,
she finally concedes. Not the same Christmas,
not their Christmas, but Christmas nonetheless.
Like the little rock, his legacy will linger, the memories
dangling in her heart like cherished heirlooms.

From She of the Rib (CRM Books, 2006).
Used with permission.

Jayne Jaudon Ferrer is the author of five books of poetry, a nonfiction book about games, and a novel, Hayley and the Hot Flashes. Jayne created in 2009 to share the pleasure and diversity of poetry. A former copywriter, magazine editor, newspaper columnist, and freelance journalist, her work has appeared in hundreds of publications. When not writing or reading, Jayne enjoys music, old movies, gardening, hiking, and good conversation. A native Floridian, she has lived in Greenville, South Carolina, for almost 30 years. Learn more about her at




Post New Comment:
Jeri Thompson:
Really brings back Christmas with shabby and shiny decorations and those that cannot be released.
Posted 12/14/2019 01:16 AM
So many memories. Such a beautiful poem. Thank you for sharing.
Posted 12/12/2019 04:34 PM
There's nothing wrong with long(er) poems if they're worth the time. This one is rather poignant.
Posted 12/07/2019 01:21 AM
What a beautiful poem. I've re-read it many times now. Brings tears to my eyes first of loss, then of increasing joy--how lucky we are to have such memories. Lovely, lovely poem
Posted 12/06/2019 08:57 PM
Lori Levy:
Beautifully expressed, Jayne.
Posted 12/06/2019 05:49 PM
I am humbled by, and so appreciative of your comments. Few things are more satisfying to a writer than thinking our words have brought comfort to someone.
Posted 12/06/2019 04:04 PM
The little rock -- angel, ghost, bird -- every parent remembers. It's not loss, it's embedded joy.
Posted 12/06/2019 12:04 PM
No, it's not the same Christmas, this one more meaningful as one moves forward through the present moments while looking at the past - decorations serving as memories. "the memories dangling in her heart." ! Thank you, Jayne.
Posted 12/06/2019 10:04 AM
"...the memories dangling in her heart..." No apologies needed for sifting through this big precious box together.
Posted 12/06/2019 09:46 AM
Posted 12/06/2019 09:46 AM
Glen Sorestad:
A most poignant, meaningful poem, Jayne. Thanks for sharing this with us.
Posted 12/06/2019 09:39 AM
thank you....I, facing holidays alone....needed that.
Posted 12/06/2019 09:18 AM
Christmas decorations do trigger memories.
Posted 12/06/2019 09:14 AM
Pat Brisson:
Beautiful and wise. Thank you, Jayne.
Posted 12/06/2019 09:09 AM
Beautiful Jayne. Nicely balanced and so true and timely!
Posted 12/06/2019 08:54 AM
Nabby Dog:
The holidays can be a time of peaks and valleys for many people. This poem addresses these two extremes in a very effective and beautiful manner but what I admire most is the resolve at its conclusion, "Not the same Christmas, / not their Christmas, but Christmas nonetheless." This is a mature and knowing poem and I am grateful for it.
Posted 12/06/2019 08:40 AM
michael escoubas:
How true, poignant and relevant to many who approach the season burdened, Jayne. Thank you for this timely gift.
Posted 12/06/2019 08:09 AM
It's beautiful Jayne. Thank you for the depth and insight into what utter grief might look like for someone that is experiencing loss during a seemingly festive time of year.
Posted 12/06/2019 07:27 AM
The imagery is spot on. We all have those misshapen ornaments that have become "cherished heirlooms". And the very specific descriptions: "slowly unlaps the worn pasteboard flaps" and "mummied cache" and "beat-up, bucktoothed pine cones". Great poem!
Posted 12/06/2019 07:25 AM
More of your own poems please, that is absolutely beautiful.
Posted 12/06/2019 07:24 AM
Not too long at all. A lovely poem about a difficult topic.
Posted 12/06/2019 06:10 AM

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