Thursday, December 9, 2021

44 Years of Christmas Poems: Christmas 2021

One of the first events we went to in the fall in this strange new world that we inhabit was the Immersive Van Gogh exhibit at the Tower Theater in Philadelphia, PA. Inside we toured the artist's timeline of his life and work and were struck by the precarious balance that he was navigating between his artistic pursuit of perfection and madness.

The grand finale was sitting inside the theater auditorium and being literally immersed in his art and story. The photo on the cover of the card was taken inside the space. It was almost overwhelming and touched me deeply. I had no idea that it would inspire the theme of this year's poem until I sat to write and these ideas came spewing out in verse.

I hope that you find a note of beauty and balance in your own holiday season as we continue to navigate between peace and madness. I truly believe that we all come out stronger in the end.

Peace to you and yours. All is well.

Christmas 2021

By Richard Perrotti


The painter positioned his canvas

As the night sky beckoned afar.

How best to depict what he’s seeing,

To capture an avenue of stars?


He’d attempted, he’s tried to do this before;

Not once had it turned out quite right.

This time he determined to paint it

In the very best possible light.


What are you seeing? His inner voice asked,

Or better yet, what do you feel?

Are you looking to dance with the infinite

Or grasping to capture what’s real?


“I don’t know,” he honestly answered.

“I’m really not sure what I see.

It appears as such for an instant

Then shifts like a turbulent sea.”


Know this, his muse did advise him,

You must let yourself off the hook

You’re trying to capture perfection

As if following rules in a book


You act like your life is a lesson

That you ought to have taken to heart.

But creation has always been messy

And regret has no place in your art


Love simply lights one more candle

While anger keeps cursing the dark.

Let love’s light illumine your painting

And you’ll find that you’ve left quite the mark.


We paint on a canvas called Christmas

And struggle to get it just right.

Be still and hear what’s within you.

See it in the best possible light.


For love is truly the present

And the present is always here/now.

It’s the gift that always keeps giving

For as long as we accept and allow.


Tuesday, December 29, 2020

43 Years of Christmas Poems: Christmas 2020


The note on the back of this year's card reads as such: "What really can be said about a year such as this? It will be as you see it and grow into legend with each retelling and remembrance. Legends tend to have staying power and a long reach. Make it a good one!
Peace and prosperity, Rich"

After losing the first three weeks of December to the virus, I was astonished at what I had lost as far as mental acuity. I truly didn't know if the spark to do a poem this year would return. But my truth is that I always bounce back and I held dear to that and let doubt slip away. It may be a minor victory among all of the personal battles so many are waging but I could feel good about it and that's what turned out to be the most important thing. That became my pearl of wisdom and inspired this year's (albeit late) Christmas poem. My hope is that you find your own inspiration somewhere along your journey.

Christmas 2020

By Richard Perrotti


“Time is the great stealer,” he told me

It will rob you of all you hold dearly.”

But time is also the great healer, I replied,

Offering the chance to see things more clearly.


“Look at the star blazing brightly above us.

Magnificent! And not really a star.”

Exactly, I said, just two planets aligning

And our unique point of view from afar.


“You’re deluding yourself,” he muttered

The world’s filled with sorrow and pain.

Look around at everything missing

That can never be cherished again.”


Consider this, I requested

Every thought requires a host

To give it life and to spread it

‘Else it withers and dies like a ghost.


Everything that’s ever been in this world

Remains in some altered form.

For what is a pearl in an oyster

But a grain of sand reborn?


A child will grow and stretch towards the sky

While feeling some pain from that growth.

Yet he’ll exalt at his world expanding.

It’s not one or the other. It’s both.


“But darkness seems to surround us,” he said.

I’m exhausted from this terrible fight.”

Then release the struggle. Surrender, I said

And you’ll find that you turn towards the light.


With that the darkness just lifted

And the feeling of light flooded down.

If you focus on something that’s missing,

You will never see what’s been found.


Tuesday, December 24, 2019

42 Years of Christmas Poems: Christmas 2019

Here is the handwritten note that I included in my cards this year. It says it all in terms of how long and exhausting it was to express the sentiment in the way that I wanted. It's dated 12/22/19, the day that I finally completed the poem.

"I just wanted to share a short note with you about this year's poem, one of them that took a long time to wrote. This is the 42nd version of an idea that started in my mother's kitchen back in 1978. Some years they have flowed easily from my pen. This was not one of those years. Like the poem explains, you can focus on the good and soar or focus on the fall and despair. For too long, I was feeling what the fall was all about... until I didn't. There is good all around. Find it and it will 'open your wings again.'

With love,

Certainly not the best worded note but it expressed the process all too well. I wish you and yours peace and happiness in 2020 and the very merriest of Christmases.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

41 Years of Christmas Poems: Christmas 2018

Some years, the process takes longer than others. 2018 was such a year.

Having shifted into a world of active training on technology and sales, December was a non-stop hotbed of activity. Even though I knew exactly what I wanted to write about in the poem, finding the time and the energy was a real challenge. I'm sure no one can appreciate what I'm talking about, right? ;-)

All-nighters are getting harder as I move down the timeline of life. Finishing this in the wee-morning hours of 12/21 and finding myself mailing the bulk of the cards out at 4 a.m. on the 24th, I certainly can appreciate what parents go through with trying to get the kids to bed on Christmas Eve and then wrapping presents on little sleep only to awaken to the wonder of delighted shrieks just a scant few hours later.

With that, I send this poetic child of mine out into the world. From my heart to all of yours, Merry Christmas and best wishes for peace and prosperity in 2019.

Christmas 2018
By Richard Perrotti

Christmas engages our senses
With wonderful sights and sounds.
Scents that delight and entice us
To taste (and pack on the pounds!)

An overlooked aspect of the season
Is the tactile, the texture of real.
So consider this holiday question –
Christmas: how does it feel?

The chameleon of this wintry season
Is the snow that falls from the sky.
Delicate it floats on the breezes.
Hard and blackened on the ground by and by.

Pine needles are resinous and sticky,
Making their point when touched.
Yet on these rough limbs, we adorn them
With ornamental memories well clutched.

Those baubles can be glass or golden
Newly purchased or passed down through time.
Crafted by past generations
Preserving moments, loving and sublime.

Both smooth and crunchy is garland,
Tinsel that shines on the tree.
Brushy, teeming with color,
Draped like smiles of holiday glee.

The cookie really does crumble
As you roll it about in your hand.
Turning your five faithful fingers
‘To a colorfully crumby fairyland.

The last stop of this tactile journey
Is the texture of a real human heart.
Look deep past the muscle and sinew.
Find the place where true feelings start.

For to touch someone’s heart is a miracle.
In a flash, pain and sorrow can heal.
It’s the one place to answer the question;
Christmas: how does it feel?

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

40 Years of Christmas Poems: Christmas 2017

In a year where unimaginable darkness arose and lives were lost as a result, I noted that an ancient form of activity has taken center stage in a modern form; scapegoating has returned with a social media vengeance. Pointed fingers and angry voices calling out the "others" as the most serious threat to our very way of living has taken hold across the country.

These others are simply people who are trying to improve their lot in life much the same as scores of immigrants have before. Coming from other lands, legally and illegally, they want what every person yearns for: freedom and a chance to build something for themselves and their families. Some have succeeded, many have been taken obscene advantage of. This is the unfortunate result of the use and misuse of power and it has been this way virtually forever. That will not be changing anytime soon.

Though now not a religious person, I was raised in a Catholic family and attended Catholic grammar and high school. I've been well educated in the Bible and the Western civilization and know the legends and stories well. It doesn't take an advanced education in divinity to know the Great Commandments that are common to virtually all of the world's great religions. Sadly, they seem to be quite out of vogue in today's modern world.

It makes me wonder what would happen if we were able to hit the "reset" button on Christianity and how the events of the original Christmas story would play out in 2017. I don't think it would be quite be the same. Consider this today when choosing whether or not to "cast the first stone", whatever form that stone may take.

 Christmas 2017
By Richard Perrotti

It is written “Do unto others
As you would have them do unto you.”
This serves as a constant for mankind
A Rule we can all live up to.

But one can also live down this rule,
Offering hatred, prejudice and shame;
Pointing fingers and cursing the “others”
In a cascade of vitriol and blame.

These “others” have always been with us,
Playing a critical role.
They afford us another opportunity
To align with (or away) from one’s soul.

“There will always be some in this land who are poor,”
Of this we cannot be naïve.
For how else would you then practice
“It is more blessed to give than to receive”?

“The godly care about the rights of the poor,
The wicked do not care at all.”
The “others” are there to remind us
Of what will result from this call.

Picture an impoverished young couple,
Worn down to the bone and skin.
Where would we have them turn to
When there’s no room for them in the inn?

Now imagine a poor unwed mother,
Pregnant by an impossible plan;
Eventually accepted by her husband-to-be
Was how the first Christmas story began.

In a feeding trough called a manger,
A newborn male child was laid.
Surrounded by shepherds, cattle and kings,
To the Light of the World they prayed.

How would we judge such a story today?
Would we open our hearts to these brothers?
Or denigrate them as heathens and strange
Casting them out as the “others”?

This is known as the season of giving,
Words we adorn on a shelf.
Here’s the true spirit of Christmas;
“Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

Monday, December 19, 2016

39 Years of Christmas Poems: Christmas 2016

During the summer, I was inspired to compose this year's Christmas poem as an actual song. When the inner voice speaks, I grab a pad and start writing without judgement, even if strikes out of a dead sleep. The scribbles can later be translated during conscious hours. Thus the 39th edition of the poem was going to be a pleasant surprise to all, especially me!

And then the ugliness of our political process started to envelop this country like a fog. I still believed in the innate goodness and wisdom of our populace only to discover that the literary "dark night of the soul" could actually occur in the real world. The emotions that overwhelmed me were some of the worst feelings that I have ever experienced. And now the song of joy that was close to completion was going to remain unfinished. All of the light channeled into it had been extinguished.

I knew in my heart that an answer would arrive to help me process these events and that the Christmas poem might actually be a vehicle of healing.That's when the movie "It's a Wonderful Life" projected within my mind; I popped in the DVD and watched. And there it was, the ethereal skeleton that would form the frame of this year's poem. The Henry F. Potters of the world are our call to a greater, active level of love, growth and acceptance. This powerful thought will help us all win our wings now and forever.

Christmas 2016
By Richard Perrotti

Into each life, some Potter must fall.
(Henry, not Harry, I’m afraid.)
Who see a “discontented, lazy rabble,”
And to their lesser angels, tirade.

“Sick in his mind, sick in his soul,”
George Bailey’s dad did opine
He would fight for the families and children
That Potter would scorn and malign.

“I’m an old man and most people hate me,”
Said Potter with scant to believe in.
“But I don’t like them either,” he roared
“So that just makes it all even.”

“Your father’s so called ‘high ideals’
Without sense could ruin this town.”
Potter’s shadow surrounded George Bailey
And his dreams began to break down.

The price of battling such blackness
Is a painful, spiritual shove.
You become a “warped, frustrated young man”
Neglecting all those that you love.

Help arrives in a manner quite odd;
An angel, sans wings, to fulfill
Your request to vanish this Bedford Falls life.
You awaken to “Pottersville.”

With goodness and decency naught to be found,
Confusion and chaos will reign.
You search for the town so dear to your heart
To find a city, embattled, in pain.

“Strange, isn’t it?” the angel does say,
“Each life touches so many others.
When you’re not around, the hole that you leave
Effects countless sisters and brothers.”

Let despair not overtake you
Or darkness lead you astray.
You may not be a “praying man”
But you can ask to be shown the way.

Peace be with you, my sisters and brothers.
May love be the song your heart sings
As bells proclaim joyful tidings;
Our better angels “winning their wings.”