That Joy to the world! phrase you liked from strolling-by carolers,
song notes and breath clouds lingering in the cold dark.

That lantern that came apart but then somehow still worked
leading us back to the holiday cabin after looking at stars.

That time when we tried to give the neighbor kids a sled,
their dad out of work, but he made them give it back to us.

That red-and-green construction-paper collage glued together
by a grandchild (with help) on his second Christmas.

That year your sister had nothing else to give you
but her beloved sewing machine table – and there it was!

That ominous box at your door from a soon-to-be ex
full of kitchen knives, a sharpening stone, and stale fudge.

That one when we all went in to get Mom the cross-country skis
she so much wanted, and we told her by making a Barbie doll skis
with two flat, green roof pieces from the Lincoln Logs, pencils
for the poles, and stood it where she’d see it
when she got back from candlelight service,
nobody saying anything until she noticed
and gasped, “What’s this?!” crying a little.


Jan Carroll’s recent book, Enough of a Path to Get Through, is available at The Local Store, 205 N. Dewey St., Eau Claire. To subscribe to her free quarterly poetry newsletter, email her at Read more by and about Jan at


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