This poem was written by my cousin Dennis’ son, Mark Berglund, recalling Christmas at our house in Stockton, CA 41 years ago. Mark captured for all of us a magic moment in time that we all who were there remember as if it were yesterday. All the older relatives have passed except for Mom and Dad, who still live in this same house—celebrating Christmas with those lucky enough to be there this evening.
And as I do most every year, the older that I get;
I think of all the Christmases I never will forget.
The one that’s in my thoughts right now is from when I was eight.
Riding to my Uncle’s house……. December twenty-eight.
Packed into my grandfather’s big Oldsmobile for hours.
With Mom and Grandma’s perfume smelling just like Christmas flowers.
Grandpa driving..not too fast–in fact a little slow,
Tuned in to his favorite station…News KSFO.
And, like a nervous co-pilot, my Grandma keeps an eye
on my Grandpa’s driving and the others passing by.
Then we hit the summit and around the final bend,
The Sacramento valley stretched out below from end to end.
And that’s when we all knew that the drive would soon be done.
We’d be at Uncle Boyd’s house soon for dinner, friends, and fun.
Grandma warns us cautiously, not to be to hasty.
“We still have lots of road left, down the hill and on through Tracy”.
Then the final clover leaf, our turnoff just ahead.
My sister crying next to me (she needed to be fed).
It didn’t even bother me. I didn’t really care.
‘Cause we were coming to their street, we were nearly there!
An end was finally coming to our small cross country ride,
and I started to recognize the cars all parked outside.
Then across the street we walked, me kicking fallen leaves,
to the house with Christmas lights all hanging from the eaves.
And when the door was opened, I saw people everywhere.
A relative on every stool, sofa, couch, and chair.
Perhaps the thing that I’ll remember most of all forever,
is everybody smiling. Happy just to be together.
Now I can appreciate the organization
that it takes to orchestrate such a celebration.
The meal that was timed and served to absolute perfection,
to people seated everywhere in everywhich direction!
And Michigan… the topic of at least one conversation.
The story of the grocery store, the family, and migration.
Chances for us all to get to know each other better.
And wear our nicest festive blouses, Christmas ties, and sweaters.
A chance for us to play real football on the lawn.
With a real football player…with U.C. sweatshirts on!
Then back inside the house, Ho Ho-ing through the door,
Santa came in, looking like someone we’d seen before.
Sack in hand, he quickly picked my sister up to hold her,
and placed her miles above the floor up upon his shoulders.
To this day I still remember what it was he brought me.
A toy jeep, with a bow on top, is what that Santa got me!
And so the night got older, and the children started fading.
In the kitchen sounds of coffee…… slowly percolating.
Soon we’d be back on the road… me, there fast asleep;
dreaming of the football game, my sweatshirt, and Jeep.
Later, we’d get pictures back from that Christmas Day.
We’d put them in an album. Then we’d pack them all away.
And years from then, I’d look at my own children…as a Dad.
And think back to that Christmas, and what a time we had.