Saturday, December 10, 2011

34 Years of Christmas Poems: Christmas 1980

I have found that we hit a point in our lives where past becomes present. It's usually realized in unpredictable fashion, never knowing who or what will trigger it. But to me it's a "snap to" feeling, sort of like "vuja de" where everything old is new again.

I believe that is what happened to me in 1980 as I found the inspiration for this poem. All of the decorating of the family house was now falling primarily on me. In the past, I was never jolly about pulling down the attic stairs and climbing up into that dusty space to haul down scores of dirty boxes. It was a chore that I generally despised and would broadcast my displeasure loud and clear.

I think that the departure of my father and the dissolving of the "happy family" picture changed all of that. Now these ornaments and decorations became encapsulated memories, taking on entirely different meaning as they were placed on display. I know for certain that they gave me pause at times, flooding the memory banks with deep emotion.

Many boys become "man of the house" due to all sorts of events. Rarely are they ready for it; I know that I certainly wasn't. This poem was my attempt to conjure up warmth from the dying embers, a chapter in my life that was now over and done.

Christmas 1980
Richard Perrotti

Framed moments, gathering dust
In cold attic corners and emotional bedrooms.
Trudge upstairs, wipe off the boxes,
Grumbling of work and holiday doom.

Yet the ornaments still sparkle when exposed to the light.
The memories… can that one really be twenty years old?
Wasn’t that the year you knocked over the tree?
The images shine bright in the tinsel star’s gold.

The room seems to glow with a life of its own.
The present’s suspended like snow in mid-air.
And two sets of eyes find one magic moment
Of love, and all living memories they share.

Stories abound on what’s found in dingy boxes,
Some old miner’s fortune or a valued heirloom.
But how can those match the priceless treasure
Of love past and present in a time machine room?

The years try to weaken these old magic boxes,
They eat at the seams and exploit every tear.
They tarnish the glow and dust over the sparkle,
So each year we work harder to preserve what is there.

So too lies our love, in human-shaped boxes,
Taking a beating under life’s daily grind.
Erasing the past with today’s pressing problems,
Till finally, refuge; yearly peace of mind.

Our boxes abound with memories unawakened,
Till shaken by ornaments with no life of their own.
Then, nurtured and warmed and shared with another,
We celebrate them together, in a place we call home.


Here are some of the goings-on in December 1980:
1st - 46th Heisman Trophy Award: George Rogers, South Carolina (RB)
1st - Mel Harris appears on M*A*S*H in "Cementing Relationships"
1st - US Justice Dept sues Yonkers siting racial discrimination
2nd - 4 American Maryknoll nuns killed by death squads in El Salvador
3rd - NY Federal jury finds Reps Thompson D-NJ & Murphy, D-NY, guilty
4th - 2 months after death of drummer John Bonham, Led Zeppelin breaks up
4th - Islanders end 15 game undefeated streak (13-0-2) (Col Rockies)
5th - Bank of Canada's Canadian Currency Museum opens
6th - Jim Bakker rapes Jessica Hahn
6th - NASA launches Intelsat V satellite, no. 502
8th - "Bravo" network premieres on cable TV
9th - 61°F in Boston at 1 AM
10th - Soyuz T-3 returns to Earth
10th - USSR performs underground nuclear test
11th - Dirk Wellham scores 100 on 1st-class debut, NSW v Victoria
11th - The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (known as either CERCLA or Superfund) is enacted by the U.S. Congress.
12th - US's copyright law amended to include computer programs
13th - "Perfectly Frank" closes at Helen Hayes Theater NYC after 16 perfs
14th - "Onward Victoria" opens/closes at Martin Beck NYC for 1 performance
14th - Anders Kailur scores on 6th Islander penalty shot
14th - At 2 PM EST there is 10 minutes of silence in memory of John Lennon
14th - Minn Vikings pass for 456 yards against Cleve Browns, winning 28-24
14th - Nancy Lopez/Curtis Strange wins LPGA J C Penney Golf Classic
14th - New Orleans Saints end 14 game losing streak, beat NY Jets 21-20
14th - USSR performs nuclear test at Eastern Kazakh/Semipalitinsk USSR
15th - NY Yankee Dave Winfield becomes highest-paid player, 10 years $15M
15th - Premier Queddei troops conquers Chad capital N'djamena
15th - ZBZ Sangha registered after 5 yrs of administrative hassles in Warsaw
16th - Alexander Haig named Reagan's Secretary of State
16th - Pres-elect Reagan announces Alexander Haig as secretary of state
17th - Great Britain performs nuclear test at Nevada Test Site
17th - Mauritania provisional constitution published
18th - Bruce Sprinsteen's concert at Madison Sq Garden
18th - Dutch 2nd Chamber accepts minister Van Agts abortion laws
18th - IRA's Sean McKenna becomes critically ill, ends hunger strike
18th - Vietnam adopts constitution
19th - Anguilla becomes a British dependency separate from St Kitts
19th - Iran requests $24 billion in US guarantees to free hostages
19th - Mutaual Broadcasting cancels Sears Radio Theater
20th - NBC broadcasts NY Jets' 24-17 win over Dolphins without audio
20th - USSR formally announces death of Alexei Kosygin
21st - Harold Carmichael ends NFL streak of 127 consecutive game receptions
22nd - Cardinals release outfielder Bobby Bonds
22nd - Pres-elect Reagan appoints J Kirkpatrick (UN) & James Watt (Interior)
23rd - Sam Shepard's "True West," premieres in NYC
24th - Americans remembered Iran hostages by shining lights for 417 seconds
26th - Aeroflot puts the Ilyushin Il-86 into service.
27th - Calvin Murphy (Rockets) begins longest NBA free throw streak of 78
28th - Mexico terminated fishing agreements with US
29th - Shuttle STS-1 moves from Vandenberg AFB to Launch Complex 39A
30th - "Wonderful World of Disney," last performance on NBC-TV
31st - A Jewish owned hotel in Nairobi Kenya is bombed killing 18
31st - NY Islanders greatest shutout margin (9-0) vs Chicago Black Hawks
31st - Senegal president Leopold Senghor resigns


  1. the more i read your work, the more the title of your blog fits: i am amused by 'vuga de' and amazed by the beauty of soul within 'Many boys become "man of the house" due to all sorts of events.' thank you for laughter and tears. Rw

  2. Glad that you are enjoying the trail of poems, Renee. Many more to come!