Star’s Christmas

I am not in any way an expert on the Constitution; however, when it comes to impeachment, if one votes along party lines rather than fulfilling ones oath to uphold the Constitution, is that not aiding and comforting our enemies, i.e., bona fide treason? (Asking for a few million friends.)

For many it’s the day after Christmas. I love when we can bring our traditions together rather than argue about secular vs religious, or religious vs religious. For those who yelp about keeping Christ in Christmas, okay, well, Jesus, born a couple thousand years ago, love incarnate, taught us to unite in joy. I can see no more Jesus-like way than bringing Dickens and Luke together to open their stockings. Along with all the people celebrating the light of the world this season.

I hope if you celebrate Christmas, that your day was dappled with joy and the greatest gift of all, being able to recognize love. I try not to get all caught up in defining it. We know it when we experience it. And we recognize its absence, as when 45 descended beneath anything humane in his remarks on Congressman Dingle.

Love. We know it when we offer it, when we receive it, when we witness it.

Star’s Christmas

Outside the box store, a Salvation
Army volunteer rings her bell,
the sound taking its place
with the snowflakes falling
around her. Star, heading in
to pick up a recording, suddenly
feels caught between desire and
the bell. He feels he’s going
to blow a lay up, that
a crowd of angels is watching
to see if he’ll take the shot or
toss the ball to his teammate
cutting down the lane. Inside,
he sees the glow of florescence
hovering over the aisles. The bell
continues its single note. The ringer’s
stare moves across the lot, between
the cars, between the snowflakes.
Star feels everything in his life
change, the way a vase suddenly
becomes two faces. All he
wanted was a new cd, to take
it home, lie back on his bed and
let it let him dream. But now
each person in the store is an angel,
every dollar a story. Each car
is rusting back to earth. Star’s
sore from playing and afraid
the change he carefully drops into
the bucket is never enough, that
the bell’s one note will never stop.

–Jack Ridl

First published in Free Lunch.

Subsequently published in Losing Season (CavanKerry Press).

New Year’s resolution: Support the value of poems: Give a book to someone who isn’t aware that poems aren’t what they think they are, a book that will enable the person to feel understood and affirmed.


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Visit Reader’s World or Hope-Geneva Bookstore in Holland, The Bookman in Grand Haven, the Michigan News Agency in Kalamazoo, and The Book Nook & Java Shop in Montague to find Jack’s books in West Michigan.

Jack’s page on Amazon.

Click here to subscribe to receive Jack’s poems and news in your inbox.

Click here for Jack’s entire collection, In Time — poems for the current administration.

Click here to watch Jack’s TedX talk.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Kindness.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Everyday Forgiveness.

Jack at Fetzer Institute on Empathy.

Jack Ridl at Fetzer Institute on Suffering and Love.

Beyond Meaning with Jack Ridl, C3: West Michigan’s Spiritual Connection

12 thoughts on “Star’s Christmas

  1. Jack, Years ago I had a little column in the local newspaper. I wrote this one Christmas. Thought it might be appropriate this year.

    A friend tells me she has cancer and I am amazed by the grace with which she carries that awful news. Another friend is having trouble finding a job, and darkness begins to settle over the day well before the usual 4:30 p.m. sunset. It is Christmas, Mr. Fezziwig, but it is hard to escape the fact that life goes on.
    Maybe that is why we need the lights. You see them on houses. You might even decorate your own house. Colored lights, white lights, maybe blinking, or electric candles in the windows.
    I ran into my two friends as I walked downtown. We stood on cold street corners talking. It did not seem quite right to hug them. But on the way home I began to notice the lights. A simple string of lights on some random bush or small tree or outlining a door. Lights against the darkness.
    You only need to pick up a newspaper to see the darkness. It is not hard to miss.
    We have to be reminded of the lights. We have to make a special effort to see the lights.
    We have made this holiday into Santa Claus and commercials and a running tally of how many shopping days are left.
    I get it. Christmas is useful in different ways or different generations.
    My grandmother was fond of that classic World War II song, “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” so sad and beautiful at the same time. A war her husband came home from, but not her brother. I still get misty watching Judy Garland singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” in the movie “Meet Me In St. Louis.”
    I am old enough to have conversations with my wife that begin, “I hope the kids can make it home for Christmas.” And I am not so old that I don’t sometimes wish I was stepping onto the boat and heading back to the house I grew up in for Christmas with my own mother.
    Still, most years I come late to the season, maybe noon on Christmas Eve.
    This year it all happened sooner. I began to notice the lights. I began to see them through the eyes of certain friends, the lights like a flare sent into the sky by a sinking boat desperate to get the attention of the Coast Guard.
    I am not sure about religion, but the lights I get. They are like a series of campfires keeping away the wolves.

    • John, I am sooooo glad that you posted this. I hope many get to read it.
      Everything in it is daringly tender, that most difficult form of writing: refusing
      to remain loyal to the tender. There is a paralyzing fear of such among artists of
      all kinds today. I even saw the NYTimes movie critic dismissed the Mr. Rogers film
      with a “sniff sniff.” Jim Harrison once said that life IS sentimental and he’d rather
      die being called sappy than end up a wise ass. (I paraphrase.) This is a piece I wander
      in: the words disappear and both a world and a loving heart become present. And a present.
      Thank you so much. I too am not sure about religion, but I am sure of the garland
      draping our front porch and what it welcomes.

  2. Thank you… Starr

    If a man cannot keep pace with his companions perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears however measured or far away. -HD Thoreau

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