Guest post today featuring my daughter, college student, and writer, Sarah Gallay. She’s loved writing since she was in the fifth grade (and probably even before then). She enjoys writing poetry and science fiction fantasy, and is currently working a historical fantasy novel.
Christmas Quandary — by Sarah Gallay
Bag on my arm, keys in my hand…
And though the parking lot’s too full
Cars still inch down the aisle, red faces
None too cheery, all seeking the elusive
Empty space. “Hey, lady, heading out?”
I shake my head and the man drives on.
How can I stay in those packed corridors
And stores promising the perfect present
Factory-made for a million different people?
And how can I leave with only this bag
Swinging on my arm, the lonely box inside
Waiting to be wrapped and under the tree?
Is it ever enough?
“Oh, sorry about that.”
I rub my arm where her car door bumped me
And look at this girl who’s everything I’m not,
Cell phone, make-up and an outfit
Pulled from the fashion magazines
I’ve never read. I can feel her gaze too,
Focused at the single bag on my arm,
And I guess the question before she asks,
“Are you having a tough year? Can’t buy
Why this assumption
In the present age of consumerism, the logic
That I don’t have enough money, rather than
Choose not to spend it all? Still, I can’t choose
To be anything less than polite. “Not at all.
It’s been a good year, in more ways than one,
And I could afford more than one present.
But a gift is more than just the money
You’ve spent and the receipt to return it
In case it doesn’t suit them.”
Are you even at the mall then, if you don’t like
Buying presents?” And there’s the accusation
Calling out blasphemy against the god
And savior of the season: debit, credit, cash,
Paper or plastic? Would you like it gift-wrapped?
And here’s a free present that in no way
Makes up for all the hours and energy
And money you’ve spent and still think
You ought to spend.
“I won’t claim
Not to be a hypocrite. Who could know, except
Maybe the giver of the very first Christmas,
That two thousand years would turn
A straw-filled manger into a gift-wrapped box,
Heavenly hymns into commercial jingles,
And a holy sacrifice for peace on Earth
Into frantic, debt-filled days. But
Don’t you see, in the midst of all this,
The first gift is still here, hidden, maligned,
Ignored even as it inspired all the others
For the first gift has always been enough.”
And it is enough, as I step into my car
And drive away, leaving the girl still thinking
Or maybe ignoring everything I had to say
For her thoughts are her own. No fault of the giver
If the gift’s not accepted. It is enough
To remember no matter what presents
I give and receive, they all point to a gift
Worth more than even money can buy.