Friday, December 18, 2020

T'was the week before Christmas

 I wrote this about 30 years ago when my kids were young and we lived on Sunset Street. It was typical of Christmas at our house, slow start and a good finish.


T'was the week before Christmas and down at our Hovel

Nothing was ready; the confusion was awful.

No Holiday spirit; it just wasn't right.

Not one civil word, just fight after fight.


The dust and the dishes and all unmade beds,

No lights on the eaves, no home-made bread.

"Marley was dead?" Somewhere under the sink,

For over three weeks, from the garbage pail stink.


The food in the freezer was cold to the touch

No mince pie or turkey, just broccoli and such.

The gifts that were bought lay unwrapped in the closet

"No payments till June, just make a deposit".


A Charlie Brown Tree, in the corner it stood

Wishin’ it were back buried deep in the wood.

Then came the Spirit of Christmas at last:

A Rita MacNeil song on Bron's ghetto blast!


Scrooge took time off from RPC Inc,

To deal with the dishes piled high in the sink.

Cratchet came home from his office at work.

With roses for Scrooge cause he'd been a jerk.


And the weather got cold as a mom-in-law's kiss.

It snowed like the Dickens, so Ky got her wish.

Lyn got out the box with the tree decorations.

We sent out some letters to friends and relations.


Son felt quite Grinchly, coming home lame

From spraining his ankle at a basketball game,

But "Tiny Tim" was nice to his sisters for free;

He let them watch "NC Double A" on TV.


We spruced up the place, hung wreaths in the halls,

Holly and mistletoe, bright coloured balls.

We took out the garbage and dusted and baked,

And had friends come in for hot chocolate and cake.


We watched Christmas Specials and read Christmas books

And sang Christmas songs and praised Christmas cooks...

What a wonderful Christmas, sheer joy and delight.

May you too hear Rita when she sings "Silent Night".


  Rita MacNeil (1944-2013) is a Canadian song writer and folk singer from Cape Breton Island, with a life story as amazing as her voice.  Her Working Man, sung with the Men of the Deeps, is the anthem of what is left of the coal mining industry in Nova Scotia.  Her first Christmas Album Let the Bells Ring 1988, which we owned as a cassette, has been re-released as JoyfulSounds.  Her rendition of Silent Night is one of the most moving versions I know of.  

Since I could not find a video of Rita singing Silent Night on YouTube, I got my friend Walt Dunn to make one for me from my MP3


  1. Thank you and your friend for the beautiful rendition by an artist I did not know.
    And a big YES to your Christmas story. I hope that many, many families find that ending and am pretty damn certain that the beginning is familiar to most of us.

  2. EC, I hope you listen to the many Christmas and other songs from Rita MacNeil on YouTube. I wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in the wonderful land of OZ.

  3. Great poem! And I loved Rita MacNeil too. When we were in Cape Breton a few years ago, we went to her tea house and saw her ashes in the teapot! The tea house had all her awards and memorabilia too -- it was great!

  4. Debra, we were there in 2000 and she was in Toronto so we saw the tea house and that was it. I love her songs. We went to see her a few times live in Regina. Great show. She is missed by many.

  5. Thank You for Sharing that humorous and yet lovely ending Poem written so long ago, and yet, it could be Today, right?! Merry Christmas 2020, may it End Well too and you Stay Well!

  6. I'm sure it could apply to many families, Bohemian. Merry Christmas and stay safe. 2021 will be better (he said hopefully)

  7. I got a chuckle from your Christmas poem - I'm sure just about everyone can relate! Thanks for sharing Rita McNeil, too - lovely.

    Merry Christmas!

  8. Thanks, Diane, Merry Christmas to you too

  9. My goodness, that is a mighty powerful Christmas poem.... it describes the days getting closer to Christmas.... and them a wonderful time celebrating with the family.
    Sorry, I never listened much to Rita McNeil but she was a definite Canadian icon.
    Merry Christmas to you and Tanya and all the dogs and cats.
    Sadly I shall be having Christmas alone this year (thank you Mr Covid) but we have a huge family Christmas party planned for July... or perhaps August.... or maybe October..... hmmm.

  10. Hi, Shamm, glad you enjoyed the poem. I'm less of a poet than a Rhymester, as Robert W Service called himself. I love the music of Cape Breton Island. Maybe it is the Irish-Scots in me. Sorry you are alone for Christmas but sometime in 2021 your family gathering will make up for it. Better to miss a Christmas than to miss all the rest, I guess. Happy Holidays


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