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The holiday season of 1999 was a whirlwind for our family. I was still fairly crippled from surgeries that failed to help plantar fasciitis. With two sons in college and another in high school, there was plenty going on – foxhunting, firefighting, Christmas parading, Christmas pageanting, et al. And we added to the complications by going up to Leesburg for a difficult pony club prep, but we got to stay in Shelly’s mountaintop cottage with spectacular views even if we did have to get up at the crack of four am. A week later, we went to Wrightsville Beach, where we stayed in cousin Cattie’s fabulous oceanfront villa with its own incredible view. We were brokenhearted when we learned that George’s dad had cancer, and when a childhood teammate of Chip’s was killed on a fire engine rushing to put out a blaze. And another fire destroyed some local apartments – one of our 4H girls lived there. Each night, the moon was brighter than normal – I read that it hadn’t been that bright since during the Civil War, when soldiers were able to see clearly due to the bright moonlight on the fallen snow.
We had good times, bad times, sad news, bad news, and my emotions were all over the map. A few days after Christmas, as I sat at the kitchen table recovering from it all, the idea of a poem came from out of the blue. I ran upstairs to the computer, and within about an hour, it was done. Unusual, as I don’t generally write poetry, but I wish I’d done this every year. So many Christmases have come and gone, and the memories have melted into each other, but the Christmas of 1999 is clear as a bell in my mind’s eye because of the poem that takes me back in time every time I re-read it. A time machine. Take a ride with me, back to the turn of the century. (And I have no idea why WordPress will not copy this with the correct spacing and formatting!)

A MEMORY OF CHRISTMAS, NINETEEN NINETY-NINE

BY BETH HOLT

The month of December flew in with a flurry
Of places to go, songs to sing ~ life got blurry!
To decorate early, I had great intentions
And ideas for baking and crafty inventions
Soon school was out, boys were home, life was fine!
The Beginning Of Christmas, Nineteen Ninety-Nine

Each weekend was fraught with activities grand
David with shotgun sought deer from a stand
And astride a bay Thoroughbred prancing in loops
The parade route he traveled ~ 4h’ers scooped poop
From my golf cart the village main street looked sublime
As We Called “Merry Christmas, Nineteen Ninety-Nine.”

As hounds heeded sounds from the huntsman’s brass horn,
Horsemen in scarlet rode hard through the morn,
And later spun tales of the fox and the fun
Of galloping after the hounds of Deep Run

Glimpsing the chase through green forests of pine
‘Twas A Picturesque Christmas, Nineteen Ninety-Nine 


An old country church with the light of Christ beamed
As our llamas spiced up their nativity scene
Doubling as camels with Bryan disguised
As a king from afar beneath starlit skies
Retelling the birth of the child so divine
The Message Of Christmas, Nineteen Ninety-Nine

Enthralled by the grace of a grand arabesque
The great hall resounding with Tchaikovsky’s best
Spellbound we gazed while the pas de deux danced
We watched as the nutcracker Clara entranced

A feast for the eyes was the ballet’s design
The Magic Of Christmas, Nineteen Ninety-Nine

One night at one-thirty the fire alarm sounded
Chip answered the call ~ down the long stairs he bounded
And pumping the engine all night long he prayed
That the homes and belongings of some might be saved
The apartment fire raged through nine homes all in line

The Heartbreak Of Christmas, Nineteen Ninety-Nine

And sadness was with us ~ an illness revealed
We prayed that our Opa would quickly be healed
And grieved for a family whose firefighter son
Once played on the diamond with Chip having fun

With comfort from trusting in God’s sovereign mind

The Sorrow Of Christmas, Nineteen Ninety-Nine

From our small congregation we molded a choir
And planned a church pageant our Lord to admire
Rehearsals were frantic, attendance sporadic
But even with passages quite melismatic
We sang to his glory with voices refined
The Praises Of Christmas, Nineteen Ninety-Nine

As sixty young choristers mounted the stage,
I prayed that the wildest young boys would behave
“Children, Go Where I Send Thee” they sang with delight,
and recounted the story of one “Silent Night”
The church was uplifted ~ the joy was all mine
The Music Of Christmas, Nineteen Ninety-Nine

On a steep mountaintop as the winter sun rose
We gasped at the beauty of valleys below
And several days later we saw on the ocean
The sun rise again in its endless devotion
To lighting our world with bright hues intertwined
The Blessing Of Christmas, Nineteen Ninety-Nine

The days passed too quickly, the twenty-fourth came
No tree decorated nor presents to claim
I dashed out to get the last tree off the lot
The boys put it in the traditional spot
And dressed it in ornaments aged like fine wine
The Splendor Of Christmas, Nineteen Ninety-Nine

My plans to bake cookies, send cards, and write letters
Might have worked out had my tootsies felt better
But though I was late, Christmas came right on time
Bringing hope to a world needing reason and rhyme
And the nights were aglow with a bright moonlight shine
The Wonder Of Christmas, Nineteen Ninety-Nine

Copyright 1999 – Elizabeth F. Holt