Merry Happy Poetry Friday!

Welcome to Poetry Friday! I’m happy to host the party this week. I imagine many of you are busy with last-minute Christmas preparations. Are your stockings hung? Your presents wrapped? Your cookies decorated? Your house clean enough for in-laws and cousins? I wish you a Merry Christmas and a joyful New Year. And for those of you, like me, who have finished lighting your menorahs, I hope you had a happy Chanukah.

Last week looked jolly and white. Now that winter has officially arrived, it’s muddy and gray outside.

Christmas has often left me feeling conflicted. There seemed to be a reason to not celebrate when I was a child–we were Jewish and Christmas belonged to Christians. We celebrated Chanukah, but my parents kept it as the minor holiday that it was intended to be–new socks or boots were about as exciting as it got. But when I met my husband and visited his family, I found out that for them Christmas was an orgy of presents, with a little magic and not much religion on the side. What had I been missing all these years?!

For almost 10 years we lived near his family and celebrated with them. Then we moved half-way across the country, and it was clear that if we were going to celebrate Christmas, it would be up to me.  And, er, I was Jewish. So for most of their childhood, my kids grew up without Christmas and I felt slightly guilty about not keeping their father’s family’s traditions. My now-adult kids have assured me that they didn’t feel Christmas-deprived (we did a little more present-giving at Chanukah time than when I was a kid.) This poem is for them and for me.

On Tuesday, the final night of Chanukah, we lit the oil menorah that my great-grandparents brought with them from Lithuania. We did not burn the house down.

December 24th

The latkes were eaten.
The dreidels were spun.
The candles had flickered.
The presents? All done.

My clothes smelled like oil
from donuts we’d fried.
I scraped away wax,
set menorahs aside.

I read my new books.
New socks warmed my feet.
My sled gathered dust
as snow turned to sleet.

Tomorrow was Christmas
for friends– but not me.
I’d have eggrolls to nosh
and movies to see!
–©Buffy Silverman, 12/2017

Whatever holidays you celebrate, I hope they bring light in this season of darkness. In the spirit of shining a light, I’m also sharing a poem (with permission) that Margarita Engle posted this week on Facebook. The poem features the seven words banned from CDC agency budget documents.

EVIDENCE-BASED, A Poem Against Tyranny

When words are banned by a president
who imagines that limiting language
is his entitlement, all poets must use
our vulnerable freedom of speech
before we lose it the way transgender people
can lose rights, the White House has lost
diversity, and any fetus might lose hope for
a healthy future, simply because
medicine is only for the rich,
and science-based facts
are prohibited—but only UNTIL
the deceptive election is investigated,
and truth once again
sets us free.
–©Margarita Engle, National Young People’s Poet Laureate

Now, more than ever, we need to share words that light the darkness. And what better way to do so than with poetry? Please leave your poetry links below.

35 thoughts on “Merry Happy Poetry Friday!

  1. Laura Shovan

    I’m catching up after the holiday break, Buffy. Happy belated Hanukkah! I love your poem, especially the adorable last two lines. We just took the extra latkes out of the freezer to enjoy this week.

    Reply
  2. Heidi Mordhorst

    Thanks for hosting, Buffy, and for the juxtaposition of power that you created so casually: the homely thoughts of food and family traditions shared and separate, up against the raging resistance to corruption in our public lives. We need both, both simultaneously, in order to keep moving forward, the latkes and the lights, the voices and marching words.

    May the light stay with you!

    Reply
  3. Laura Purdie Salas

    I love your story and your cozy poem and all the details it shares. Feels like I’m right there with you! Christmas is…a lot. My favorite moments around the Christmas season are the quiet ones sitting in the dark, with the tree lit and the fire going. Or the night time drives where we see decorated houses. Huh. They all have to do with that contrast of darkness and light. Anyway, you are a light, Buffy! Glad your kids weren’t Christmas-scarred! Hehe.

    Reply
  4. Catherine

    Thank you for hosting today, Buffy. I love your poem and how it gently reminds us that no matter what winter holiday you celebrate, it’s likely to involve special food, gifts, and light. There really is so much more that connects us than separates us. Another reason “to share words that light the darkness.” Happy Merry, to you and yours!

    Reply
  5. Christie Wyman

    I’ve so enjoyed learning about the Chanukah family traditions in my classroom this year. Several Christmas- celebrating Kindergarteners said, “WOW! I’m going to ask my mom and dad if we can celebrate Chanukah, too!” 🙂 Many thanks for your lovely, informative, and celebratory post today. Season’s Greetings!

    Reply
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  7. Elaine Magliaro

    Buffy,
    I was an educator in a community that had a sizable Jewish population. We teachers/librarians did our best to honor the traditions of all of our students. I had quite a collection of Chanukah books–including Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins, the Chanukah Guest, The Magic Dreidels, Zigazak!, Moishe’s Miracle, Chanukah Lights Everywhere, and The Borrowed Hanukkah Latkes–that I read to the students in my class and later in the library. Those books were such fun to read aloud!

    Reply
  8. Lisa

    Buffy,

    Thank you for sharing some background around your poem–The photograph you shared is gorgeous and light-filled. I hope your holiday season is the same. And thank you for sharing the banned words poem– a balance of light & dark & words for hope!

    Reply
  9. Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

    I so enjoyed your poem, Buffy! We celebrate Christmas, but my mom taught at a Hebrew school when I was a child, so we had the opportunity to celebrate so many beautiful Jewish holidays with the families there. And now my friend Karen and I have fun sharing our different traditions with each other…your poem made me think about all of this goodness. Thank you. Happy late Chanukah and much love to you for 2018. Thank you for hosting!

    Reply
  10. JoAnn Early Macken

    Having grown up with Christmas celebrations, I appreciate the glimpse of your Chanukah traditions. And don’t we all need a little more light? Thanks also for sharing Margarita Engle’s powerful poem.

    Reply
  11. Kay Jernigan McGriff

    Thank you, Buffy, for sharing your holiday traditions. Your poem is full of warmth and love. And I have thought about writing a poem using those banned words. Margarite’s poem nails it. I’m glad you are able to share it.

    Reply
  12. Irene Latham

    Dear Buffy, who is filled with light! Thank you for sharing your holiday confusion. I love the jolly white pic and also happy to learn you didn’t burn the house down. 🙂 The point of it all, I think, is to remember we’re not here alone — tis the season of reaching out and connection, whatever the religious (or science) underpinning. Thank you for joining all of us here today for Poetry Friday and for sharing with the world your beautiful words. xo

    Reply
  13. Diane Mayr

    “Now, more than ever, we need to share words that light the darkness.” Let’s make this our goal for 2018. Thanks for your meaningful post, today, Buffy.

    Reply
  14. Mary Lee Hahn

    Thanks for hosting, Buffy, and for two fabulous poems! This time of year can be somewhat of a minefield when it comes to traditions, religions, beliefs and customs. I say, Keep Calm and Add More Rum to the Eggnog! And when in doubt, celebrate the Solstice which my favorite science-based holiday!

    Reply
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  16. Ruth

    Thanks for hosting! I’m celebrating my first day of break, with my grades all turned in, my college student home, and a few days of peace ahead!

    Reply
  17. Tabatha

    Thank you for hosting us today so delightfully! Enjoyed your poem and thoughts about the season. I have been in running-around-mode, so I am just sharing photos of myself as a tot and sending people to Joyce’s blog, but you might be interested in my post about the Icelandic Book Flood from earlier this week: https://tabathayeatts.blogspot.com/
    (Y’all probably heard that there isn’t a 7-words ban? http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2017/12/there_is_no_ban_on_words_at_the_cdc.html)

    Reply
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  19. Alan j Wright

    What a rich, informative and varied post Buffy. The poems were for me a mix of flowers and mud. It cover a broad spectrum. Poetry needs to cover all things and poets need the freedom to embrace words of their choosing, so thank you for affirming this belief. All seasonal & cultural celebrations deserve our respect and I see this in your words and the poetry you have shared. Merry Christmas.

    Reply
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  21. Rebecca Herzog

    Thank you for hosting! We celebrated Chanukah for the first time this year. With all the things going on in the world, my husband and I decided that the messages of Chanukah–standing up for what is right, religious freedom, being a light for others–were things we wanted to teach our children. We kept it low key and we all had a lot of fun. Now it is on to the final preparations of Christmas. Whee!

    Reply
  22. Joyce Ray

    Thanks, Buffy for sharing your family traditions and the treasure of your family’s oil menorah. I loved your poem and fell right into the rhythm. And three cheers for brave Margarita for taking a poet’s stand against threats to freedom. She is so right. We all must let our voices be heard. May we find the grace to follow whatever light calls us.

    Reply
  23. Brenda

    We celebrate both holidays in my house. That makes December a month of nonstop rushing for me. Latkes, candles, tree, oh my! We have found a rhythm to it over the years, and everyone plays a part. The kids don’t mind if we miss a night of Hanukkah or if someone is sick on Christmas and just wants to go back to bed. They know we are trying our best. We have holiday books to help us keep the details straight. One of the biggest gaps for me, between the two, is the Holiday card tradition. It’s a season to keep in touch and send kid pictures for me. We love getting them, too. It does get tiring, though. I also like to celebrate the solstice, because I feel like that celebration is older than the other two. So I’m not quite ready to say Merry Christmas yet. It’s still too soon for me. 🙂

    Reply
  24. Michelle Kogan

    Thanks for this rich and full post Buffy. The light from the menorah’s is very special! I love your poem, the oil and donuts, I missed the oil this week due to being sick, but the lights went on. I also liked the egg roll and movies at the end–we usually take in a Christmas movie too. Thanks also for sharing Margarita’s poem, I missed this, and so glad she posted on it. And lastly thanks for hosting the Roundup this week, Cheers!

    Reply
  25. Matt Forrest Esenwine

    Thanks for hosting, Buffy – and trust me, one need not be Jewish to enjoy eggrolls and movies on Christmas! I carry on the tradition that started when I was just 8 or 9, of going out for Chinese food Xmas Eve…and very often, we’d follow that up with a movie Christmas afternoon! Have a great weekend.

    Reply
  26. Linda

    I have taught children of many religions, and I loved learning about their holiday traditions. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to work in a school where many students were first generation immigrants. Your poem made me smile. Thank you for sharing it. Wishing you lots of love and light this holiday season and in the coming year.

    Reply
  27. Jane the Raincity Librarian

    We always celebrated Christmas in my household, but as I got older, we shifted gears a bit, and for the last few years we’ve had our Christmas dinner at a local pub to celebrate, not too unlike your egg rolls. 🙂 The most important thing is being together, whatever and whenever you celebrate. 🙂

    Reply
  28. Linda Baie

    My neighbors have duo-holidays going on, and the mom says it’s a dilemma how much and when. They really want their children to enjoy the season, and slowly learn the important parts, too. We do celebrate Christmas, but try to keep the gifts thoughtful rather than over-the-top. The granddaughters, 6 & 8 are most excited still to see what Santa brings. Thanks for sharing your past holidays, what and when, and especially that lovely lit menorah from your great-grandparents, so special. I love the poem too, a light-hearted celebration of your Christmas. I think you know I responded to those 7 words in a haiku. Margarita’s poem is exactly right, a simple warning that’s truth! Thanks for hosting, Buffy and for sharing so much.

    Reply
  29. Linda Mitchell

    OH, Buffy! I have always loved how you blend fun with the serious. It is a big deal to celebrate a religious holiday or not….to give a hat tip to another in the world that you live. And, it’s fun to read your Night Before Christmas –Post Chanukah poem. You’ve got all the bases covered. Your kids are fortunate to have such a fun mama.
    I have been trying hard not to let the current political situation affect me any more than it has. It’s tough. When a government attacks our language and our freedom to use it (despite ALL the silly “it’s not what you think” follow up tweets) it’s downright frightening. It’s really hard to distinguish the distractions from the serious anymore. It all feels serious. It’s an interesting time to be a poet. Thank you for your bravery, Margarita!

    Reply
  30. Molly Hogan

    Buffy, thanks so much for hosting the Roundup. I enjoyed your reflections about Christmas and Hanukah celebrations and your poem. It made me wonder what your own children have chosen to do now. Thanks also for sharing Margarita Engle’s poem. Sigh. These are crazy times.

    Reply
  31. Robyn Hood Black

    Merry Happy Poetry Friday, My Friend! Shortly before you posted the Roundup, I’d ended my post with
    “Follow the light to this week’s Roundup…” – I had a hunch there would be light over here, and, behold, there is. (I love your sharing that your menorah was brought from so far away by your great-grandparents!!) Thanks for sharing Margarita’s poem, too – I missed it this week. But I didn’t miss the sad news that inspired it; glad for her response.

    Reply
  32. Penny Parker Klostermann

    Thanks for hosting, Buffy. I thoroughly enjoyed your poem. I hope your Chanukah was happy. I celebrate Christmas but our family doesn’t so much in the gift department. We all travel to be together and consider “togetherness” our gift.

    Reply

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