Facing The Season

[This year is the 20th anniversary of Cape Cod Light by Michael Hattersley. The other parts of this series are here.]

Michael always had a Christmas tree, always invited us all up for a Christmas gathering. We would spend Christmas Eve distracted with anticipation, and Christmas Day mastering the video games we had gotten under the tree. Christmas morning, one person would get the hat and play “Santa,” passing out the gifts agonizingly slowly so we could all appreciate each one as they were opened.

Christmas at the house in Provincetown. Valerie (Michael’s mother) is laughing. That miiiight be me in the lower left sporting the mullet.

The grownups, I now realize, had a similar relationship with it all. It isn’t all fun and games when you have to erect and trim the tree, cook the food, clean the house, and so on. But especially when life is dealing you a bad hand in the background, it’s wonderful when you finally get to the good parts: that moment distant family walks through the door, sitting around the fire playing games, telling stories, singing, laughing.

The eighteenth poem in Cape Cod Light is Facing the Season, and it features my younger brother Aaron delivering containing the most quoted phrase in the book within our family: “knock me over the head” to get across to the good times.

Michael celebrating the season at his Provincetown house with his father Van, a somewhat less enthusiastic vocalist than Michael. If I had to guess, I’d say Michael is hamming up some especially religious Christmas carol playing on the CD player.


Facing the Season

The leaves are flying backwards like dead birds.
I could tune in “Morning in America”
But if I picked that up I’d crack.
Overnight a huge green object
Reared itself in our living room
Forecasting family, heavy lifting, and snow.
Last Christmas Eve
As we were hanging the stockings in our conspiracy
Aaron, twelve, said
“I wish you could knock me over the head
So I could come to and it would be Christmas.”
That’s how it is
Getting across to the good times, knock me over the head.


The next poem is here.

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