Sunday, December 11, 2011

34 Years of Christmas Poems: Christmas 1981

Time marches on... and over... and around... and through you if need be. That seems to be the crux of what I was feeling back in 1981. Once I stopped to think about what was then going on in my life, it makes more sense.

Still living at home, I changed jobs twice during this year. I had left the clubhouse atmosphere of movie theater life and gotten a job in civil service, clerking at the admissions desk of the county alcohol and mental health ward. I "joke" that if you want to learn an enforced lesson in patience and communication, work on getting a person suffering from paranoia and schizophrenia to check himself into a voluntary program while his family berates him to sign the papers. It was an education in highly condensed fashion.

After that, I took a job with a containerized freight company and this would lead me into an interesting and varied world that I would inhabit for the next fifteen years. In the early days, it was working with the truck drivers who were hauling freight in and out of the port as well as the longshoremen. Again, eyes opened to entirely new experiences.

Being "on the clock" and starting daily commutes (a.k.a. "the rat race") definitely started to demonstrate to me the price that is paid for supposed security. Today I feel that nothing is either entirely "good" of "bad," that everything has elements of both and it's just what we choose to focus on that makes it seems so.

I didn't know that thirty years ago.

Reading this poem today, I see a young man starting to understand the value of time and perhaps a little mournful at the number of  "freedom chips" he has placed into the pot. Knowing how my moods could swing then, this speaks true to me.

At the end of the year after writing this poem, I did meet a person who would become a major part of my life for the next nineteen years. More on that "next year."

Christmas 1981
Richard Perrotti

It seems like only yesterday…

Fixing the tree, wrapping the presents,
Writing Santa what to leave on his way.
“How much longer?” I’d plead with my mom;
The time ‘till Christmas was forever and a day.

It can’t be cold; we were just on the beach!
The days were long and warm and sunny.
The time we spent, where did it go?
Egad, Christmas gifts! I’d better save money.

I joined the rush one Christmas eve,
No time to lose, plastic money in tow.
Stores and hours flew by in the crowd
But I got what I had to in one final blow.

No time. Deadline. The pressure is on.
December’s only a month of the year.
Take this, Ms. Jones, and buy my kids presents
While I pour a tall glass of holiday cheer.

With age comes wisdom; I know this is true.
For now I realize the value of time.
More precious than gold, we spend it so freely,
Never knowing we get what we leave behind.

We bank our money in a club for Christmas.
So shouldn’t we save some of what counts?
For the memories you reap from time well worth spending
Enrich and multiply in endless amounts.


The world marches on, December 1981:
1st - 180 dies as Yugoslav DC-9 jetliner slams into a mountain
1st - Yugoslavic DC-9 crashes into mountain at Corsica, 174 killed
1st - The AIDS virus is officially recognized.
2nd - Fernando Valenzuela (Dodgers) wins NL Rookie of the Year
2nd - Moscone Convention Center, SF opens at 11:30 AM
2nd - Spanish government requests membership in NATO
3rd - Beth Daniel/Tom Kite wins LPGA J C Penney Golf Classic
3rd - US performs nuclear test at Nevada Test Site
4th - "Falcon Crest" premieres on CBS-TV
4th - Pres Reagan allows CIA to engage in domestic counter-intelligence
4th - Reagan Executive Order on Intelligence (No 12333)
4th - According to South Africa, Ciskei gains independence Not recognized as an independent country outside South Africa
5th - 47th Heisman Trophy Award: Marcus Allen, Southern Cal (RB)
5th - 56th Australian Women Tennis: Navratilova beats Chris Evert (67 64 75)
5th - France performs nuclear test
6th - Rob de Castella of Australia sets Marathon record at 2:08:18
7th - Spain becomes a member of the NATO
8th - France performs nuclear test
9th - Porn star John Holmes charged with Laurel Canyon murders
10th - -13] El Salvador army kills 900
10th - Jules Feiffer's "Grownups," premieres in NYC
10th - The United Nations General Assembly approves Pakistan's proposal for establishing nuclear free-zone in South Asia.
11th - Argentine president/gen Roberto Viola flees
11th - Muhammad Ali's 61st & last fight, losing to Trevor Berbick
11th - Peru's Javier Perez de Cuellar becomes sec-gen of UN
11th - Spacelab I arrives at Kennedy Space Center
11th - UN Sec Council chose Javier Perez de Cuellar of Peru as 5th Sec Genl
11th - Wash Capitals biggest margin of victory (9) beating Toronto 11-2
11th - El Mozote massacre: Salvadoran armed forces kill an estimated 900 civilians in an anti-guerrilla campaign during the country's civil war.
12th - "1st" closes at Martin Beck Theater NYC after 37 performances
12th - Gambia & Senegal sign agreement to be known as Senegambia in Feb 1982
12th - Wayne Gretzky scores quickest 50th goal (game 39)
13th - 70th Davis Cup: USA beats Argentina in Cincinnati (3-1)
13th - Polish govt declares martial law, arrests Solidarity activists
14th - Israel annexes Golan Heights (seized from Syria in war of 1967)
15th - 4th Emmy Sports Award presentation
15th - NASA launches Intelsat V satellite, no. 503
16th - Dutch Van Agt's 2nd govt falls
17th - Members of Red Brigades kidnap Brig Gen James L Dozier
19th - Sixteen lives are lost when the Penlee lifeboat goes to the aid of the stricken coaster Union Star in heavy seas.
20th - "Dreamgirls" opens at Imperial Theater NYC for 1522 performances
20th - Browns set team records for most fumbles (9) & most turnovers (10)
20th - Doug Small (Winnipeg Jets) ties NHL record scoring at 5 second mark
20th - Harry Krieger/Tom Eyen's musical "Dreamgirls," premieres in NYC
21st - Cincinnati beats Bradley 75-73 in 7 OTs (NCAA record)
22nd - Argentine general Leopoldo Galtieri sworn in as president
22nd - Belgium's 5th govt of Martens forms
23rd - Boycott becomes leading run-scorer in Test Crickets with 8033
24th - Guardian Angels Curtis Sliwa & Lisa Evers marry
24th - USSR performs nuclear test at Eastern Kazakh/Semipalitinsk USSR
26th - One of the great day's Test Cricket at the MCG Aust v WI
27th - Lillee becomes the leading wicket-taker in Test Crickets with 310
27th - Oiler Wayne Gretzky becomes fastest NHLer to get 100 pts (38th game)
27th - USSR performs nuclear test at Eastern Kazakh/Semipalitinsk USSR
28th - Cleveland Metroparks Administrative offices move from downtown to Zoo
28th - Warner-Elektra-Atlantic raises price of 45 records from $1.68 to $1.98
28th - The first American test-tube baby, Elizabeth Jordan Carr, is born in Norfolk, Virginia.
30th - Wayne Gretzky sets NHL record of 50 goals by 39th game of season
31st - CNN Headline News debuts
31st - Lt Jerry Rawlings becomes head of Ghana, suspends constitution
31st - Netherlands unemployment stands at record 475,000

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