Cancelled

A winter sun warms baubles
which glint as they cling
to their fingers of fragrant pine.
Thoughtful gifts lie neat
next to ripped paper.

Screaming sirens
are silenced by the peace
which sits fat on this traditional day.

Soon,
thrilled, sucrose-filled grandchildren
will demonstrate new electrical gimmicks and gismos.
We will feast while I stand firm with myself, refusing to over-eat
so I don’t ruin the treat of evening cheese.
When the table is cleared, we’ll play silly games.
As dark deepens, the children will play and the over-eighteens
will take turns to choose music,
praising or abusing the chooser of each tune.
We will all be equal;
all equally insulting, equally insulted, with one
short-lived exception; there will be
a brief act of deference when Leonard Cohen
serenades me with a single song.
We’ll tell jokes, talk movies, tastes, politics,
hand-slapping when views concur,
mock-raging when we disagree.
The racket will rise; we will be
ever more raucous until we must shout
in order to be heard.
We are united in love.
We do not celebrate quietly.
You might mistake our solid core for a battlefield,
yet it is a haven of peace and safety.
We laugh while we yell, and our laughter
describes love.

It’s time
to cease musing and leave, time
to replay the untiring Christmas theme.
I reach for my coat.

The phone rings.
I lift it, and listen
while careful words
cancel Christmas.

©Jane Paterson Basil

29 thoughts on “Cancelled

    1. Thank you Lynn. Let’s just say that this Christmas, I’ve discovered that Bristol has an amazing crisis team, and when it comes to mental health concerns, your police are far more helpful than you might expect. I hope the new year is kind to you, Lynn xx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m glad there were people there to help. It’s good to know some of our services are still functioning and they’re there when you need them. I do hope things are calmer for you now. I hope the new year is kind to you too, Jane. Kind, happy and hopeful x

        Liked by 1 person

          1. I’m so sorry, Jane, for you, the family and poor Laura. It’s a difficult time, that first baby and many of us suffer, no matter how happy and positive we try to be. I know the situation is more complex than that, but I’m glad she’s being looked after and has such a supportive unit of people to come home to. Keep well, take care and best wishes x

            Liked by 1 person

  1. The ending of this poem is like being punched in the throat. I certainly hope this did not really happen to you this year, Jane.

    I thought the first part of the poem brought Christmas to life. For me, too, it is a family holiday, a celebration of our bonds and love for each other.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, Paul, my Christmas was cancelled at the last minute. I’ve spent the last few days with a very sick daughter, accessing the help she needs and supporting her husband who has never had to cope full-blown psychosis. We’re hoping she’ll be hospitalised tonight.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Jane, I absolutely loved your description of raucous, love- filled family solidarity at Christmas. And then my heart convulsed as I read your last lines. And desperately searched the comments for more crumbs of the story.
    I am so sorry this happened. I hope she has the help she needs and recovers quickly. My thoughts and prayers are with you all at this time of need.
    You know I am always here for you Jane.😥😘😘

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you Raili. I’ll pass on your best wishes. I know it will mean a lot to her as she begins to improve. She’s been in grave danger, but you can rest assured that she’s now in a place of safety, about an hour’s train journey from my home, and is getting the best help that is available, in a new, purpose-built unit. Her husband will be staying just down the corridor from my flat for the duration. This is his home town, and it’s closer to her than where he lives.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Hi Dear Jane, I’m just catching and Been reading all the comments, and adding that I hope Laura is improving and that you are coping ok… ((hugs))… I haven’t forgotten you, I’ve been struggling health wise lately, but I’m going well this week….. except this damn smoke is annoying……

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You could use Red Adair, but he went up to the spirit in the sky 15 years ago. I hope you get a massive rainstorm soon,,,

      I think Laura is going to need a lot of support from both her family and the mental health services, but she’s on getting the best care and is on the mend now.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s good news for Laura…..
        Maybe some rain next week, if we are lucky…….
        Today my town is covered by a thick smokey haze, the sun is a yellow globe, the air is stuffy and uncomfortable to breathe… but I’m ok…. we are 500km from the fires…. imagine how bad it is there…….they have estimated we have lost, 1/2 a Billion animals…. and the conditions are still tough……… Kangaroo Island off the South Australian coast, a large Nation park of 4500 sqkm, … half the island has already been burnt to the ground and still burning…. It’s all beyond comprehension…… whatever you imagine it is… well triple that that picture……..
        Today I’ve just heard the two largest fires, one in NSW, and here in eastern Victoria are probably going to merge, under these present wind conditions… Oh dear things are bad for all those in the affected areas(which is vast)… my eyes are stinging from mixture of smoke and tears….. maybe I’ll write a bit more later on…. ((hugs))

        Liked by 1 person

        1. The loss of livelihoods and animals is horrendous, Each lost human life is a tragedy, but I’m amazed that there haven’t been more fatalities… if I could, I’d collect all the tons of water that has fallen from UK skies over the past few weeks and send it to you in massive containers. We are all praying for Australia xx

          Liked by 2 people

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