We have come to the end of the road, the sleigh parked in the proverbial shed. This is the poem that finishes up the thirty-four year run I've shared with you and I personally can't think of a nicer way to conclude.
I had the inspiration for this poem literally one year in advance. This is a lovely, true story of a continuing legacy of kindness, charity and remembrance. It starts with my meeting Jeri almost twelve years ago back in 2000. Among the many things I learned about her was that she helped her dad deliver Christmas stockings to the residents of the health care center in the assisted living facility where Harry, her dad lived. He had been doing this for years, hanging stockings from clothes lines strung up in his small room and accumulating the odds-and-ends of life to be distributed just before Christmas. The one absolute he insisted on was a box of Nabisco Animal Crackers in each stocking.
Over the years, I would help with this project by attending the wrapping party at the facility. Yes, each little item was wrapped to give the joy of opening up several presents to these ill senior citizens. For many, it would be the only gifts they would receive.
Harry moved on to "supervise us from above" in 2005 and the project lives on through the grace and determination of Jeri and her daughter, Jennifer. It has grown despite all odds and seems to be taking on an increased vitality of its own, which I think has to do with a certain unseen "elf" smiling on everyone involved.
I took many of the pictures as we distributed stockings in 2010 as well as shots of some of the happy volunteers from this past December. I am so pleased to commemorate this wonderful practice of true Christmas spirit in the current edition of the poem and can think of no finer way to say, "until we meet again next year."
I hope you've enjoyed the series as much as I have enjoyed sharing it with you. I wish you the warmth and spirit of Christmas especially now as we move deep into January. Choose to keep the light alive. Your life will be so much better for it.
Life can be viewed as a story,
Authored on the pages of time.
A tapestry tale woven in threads
Of acts full of detail sublime.
The start brings discovery and wonder
With everything utterly new.
The middle is filled with drama and growth
As we harvest our own field of view.
Now everyone loves happy endings
But life isn’t always so kind.
Then the gentle angels of our nature
Provide us a gentle remind.
Years ago, one such angel
Took upon himself such a task.
He would bring some joy to sick elders,
While donning a Santa Claus mask.
Where he lived had a health care center;
There the sick and suffering would spend
Lonely times during holiday season,
Wondering if they still had a friend.
Then on a morning near Christmas,
What to wondering eyes should appear
But a stocking to them signed, “From Santa,”
Overflowing with holiday cheer.
Playing cards, lotions, tissues and pens;
The baubles of life in itself.
Each gaily wrapped with love and great care
As if by their own special elf.
Fast forward to now’s precious moment
As we gather from near and afar.
Making stockings that say, “I remember”
Even if I don’t know who you are.
Wrapping boxes of animal crackers,
Concerns and cares fly like the birds.
For it matters not what you’re saying;
Your actions speak louder than words.
Walking the halls on a silent night,
Placing stockings made with and by love,
As we continue his work and remember
Our Christmas elf smiling above.