This year's poem will be here tomorrow, but I looked at last year's again. I had no idea, really, when I wrote this last Christmas that we would be moving, yet here I was writing about how much I would miss Christmas Eve, especially singing "Night of Silence/Silent Night" at Fairmount Avenue when I was no longer there. And here we are, getting ready for Christmas Eve at a new church. I'm still working on some of these ideas, as will be evident with 2013's version of the Christmas Poem (I have about 30 of them by now.) Exile and home are major themes in the Old Testament, Walter Bruggemann says, and they are for me, itinerant clergy, as well.
The last time I was home for Christmas service after
grilled cheese with my sisters which we always had
(though Mom and Dad had oyster soup which was
traditional), I mean the early service where Martha
sang "O Holy Night" accompanied on Daisy's piano
which I used to dust each week and where we all lit
candles and sang at the end wondering if the lights
were really going to go out like they were supposed to
not like that one year when the front spot never did,
when I hugged my old Sunday School teachers and
lingered with classmates, I knew it would be my last.
Now after my husband makes soup for me and the
boys eat pizza I go next door to the church, not the
last one that had only one service nor the one before
where once we had five services in one day, but this one,
where someone does "O Holy Night" accompanied
on a piano whose beloved owner I did not know,
where I still worry about whether the lights will go out
at the end like they are supposed to so we can light
candles when we sing the new version of Silent Night,
which, like Daisy's piano and all the teachers and
classmates who are gone now, I will miss the rest of my life.
– Michelle M. Hargrave, 2012