Of course, we know it’s all optional.
All of it.
No one will ever die
from lack of carefully chosen presents
or from not attending
that ugly sweater party at work.
It’s acceptable to skip this one
or every year,
and many people, of course,
unavoidably feel the festive tide
but do not participate
because it’s not their religion
that has been made a national event,
or because they just can’t stomach it
for one reason or another.
Sometimes I can’t, either. Sometimes
I have to shut my eyes against
the mistletoe and holly, the entreaties
to buy, or even to feel certain warm emotions
at a certain time.
Sometimes I can’t quite rise to the occasion,
or I can, but only belatedly,
and I arrive late to the party, just as
everyone else is winding down:
So, did you get all your shopping done?
At times like that, I sometimes find
a pocket of cool, fresh air, like a pair
of cardinals, say, eating berries,
or a single snowflake that strikes my glove.
And I’m not prepared then, to say it’s nothing,
or worth nothing. I don’t know why I celebrate,
but I do. Sooner or later, I always do. So far.