“BE PREPARED” – Prompt # 33

Now that our Holiday traditions have been brought to the fore, the next thing we need to do for our celebration is to prepare. Decorations need to be displayed, gifts bought and wrapped, trees trimmed, cookies baked…etc. Prompt #33 asks you to write a “preparation” poem.  Get ready to write, and tell us what you do to be prepared.

Ready for Marie:

Dash Away

Untangling light strings, I pray
that they will light sometime today.
And as my dear mother would say,
“But I just put Christmas away.”

I pull silver from the buffet
to polish and put on display,
then dig out the Santa and sleigh.
But I just put Christmas away!

The light strings are twinkling! Hooray!
I sneak from a rich cookie tray;
then tidy the cookie array.
(I’m just putting Christmas away. )

Twelve shopping days left, by the way,
and I have done naught but delay.
If you ask me why, I’ll just say,
“Cause I just put Christmas away.”

Still I cling to the jolly and gay …
for much to my heart’s dismay,
‘In the blink of an eye,’ as they say,
will be time to put Christmas away.


Walt’s Preparations:



I don’t know why I’m the guy that
always works right to the point
of no return. It’s not that I yearn
for the excitement or challenge,
(although they do entice) it’s nice
to think that my efforts are rewarded,
by the smiles am I afforded.

But, I aim to please, for these are the times
that try my soul. I need to get it right,
right up to the night I take flight.
When I’m getting past the last details,
it never fails that I forget things in urgency,
(but, I always carry “spares”, in case of emergency).
And I hold this reverent spark tucked

into my parka that fuels me, drives me,
and keeps my ever loving heart pulsing.
Each child knows that ember burns within them
every December, for as long as I remember,
they’ve made my job worth doing on that night.
Like I’ve said, I need to get it right,
right up to the night I take flight.

I don’t know why I’m the guy that
always works right up to the point
of no return. It’s just the way I roll.
Ready? No! But, I’m in control.
I am Santa Claus.




74 thoughts on ““BE PREPARED” – Prompt # 33

  1. Dear Dad,

    I can hardly believe
    this is the second Christmas
    without you. Where does
    the time go?

    It shouldn’t be a surprise
    though – every year
    the holidays are upon me
    before I’m ready.

    There is still a lot to do
    and only two weeks left!
    I have baking to do,
    and shopping to finish.

    But in the quiet of this
    moment — the “right now”
    of the holiday rush —
    I stop to breathe.

    I inhale the sights and
    sounds. I exhale the
    worry. I remember those
    who are gone, and

    thank God for those who
    are still near. Time is too
    precious not to keep
    loved ones close at heart.

    I miss you.


  2. Christmas Preparations Then and Now

    I used to get a real tree,
    make decorations
    and give some to shut-ins
    when we caroled.
    I used to make presents,
    wrap them in paper and bows
    and send off packages
    and hand written cards
    to everyone in the family.
    I used to prepare for and attend
    parties, pageants and programs.
    I used to bake a huge batch
    of monster cookies
    and pass out plates
    of them to friends.
    I used to clean the house,
    cook a huge turkey dinner
    and invite people over.

    Now, I have an artificial tree
    and use the decorations we have.
    Now, I stay home for the most part,
    buy gift cards or a few presents
    and poke them into Christmas bags.
    Now, I type a Christmas letter
    and email the ones I can.
    Now, I only clean the house enough
    to keep the health department away.
    Now, for Christmas dinner,
    I slow cook a turkey breast
    and used canned,
    frozen and instant
    everything else
    just for the immediate family.
    Now, I keep it simple
    so I can enjoy Christmas
    instead of wearing myself out
    and wishing it was over.

  3. Marie Elena and Walt (er, Santa, I mean) – your preparations echo many of ours, I’m sure … I love the “but I just put Christmas away” sentiment as I always feel like that … and I am one of those who is putting finishing touches on things right up until the last minute (although not quite so bad now as when my kids were little and still at home) – at least I don’t actually dread the season any more … great poems from both of you, as always.

  4. Making Ready

    Dragging the boxes from the attic,
    she finds that all the ornaments
    whisper their stories, as she hangs
    them one by one—handmade gifts
    of popsicle sticks, doilies, walnuts,
    and construction paper, cross-stitched
    angels, crocheted stars made by hands
    she’s missed for years now, yellowing
    cradles marked “Baby’s First Christmas”
    and one gold wreath, “Our First Christmas
    Together.” Shrek hangs beside the Magi,
    the Beatles in their Yellow Submarine,
    beside a manger with the Christ child,
    fishing Santa, golfing Santa, Eiffel tower,
    Radio City Music Hall, each one
    prompting memories too dear. No,
    this won’t be the year she gives them up
    for some decorator’s tree, adorned
    to match the living room décor.
    The star at the top, cut with kindergarten
    scissors, decorated with glitter and glue,
    will shine like the star of Bethlehem
    at least for one more year.

  5. Preparation While Waiting

    Long before advent’s reminder
    that waiting involves preparation,
    the music is selected, learned,
    rehearsed with choir, musicians,
    and soloists, through months
    of rehearsals, again, again,
    that wonderful tricky part
    worked countless times with
    violin and cello, trumpet
    and flute, hand bells and piano,
    voices blended and warm,
    until the sounds crescendo,
    the music moving in her
    fluid and painful,
    hurting and healing,
    the notes blurring with her blinking
    back tears, shaking them off,
    oh, God, how beautiful is this,
    then she works it even more fervently,
    her fingers no longer her own,
    moving past her own uplifting,
    past all blinding emotion
    to something transcendent and clean,
    becoming an instrument herself
    played by unseen hands,
    to that breathless wonder that
    opens others to take song
    into their own humbled hearts,
    their homeward hums,
    their sudden longings aloft in sanctuary,
    lifted up on some holy night,
    like the self given in prayer.
    Such Christmas miracles are born
    of active waiting, of preparation.

  6. Marie and Walt,
    I love both of your poems! I can identify with the frantic, last minute rush, the tangled lights that won’t light (actually our entire tree-lights, ornaments, and all!) just tipped over this morning!) No matter how much we try to prepare, it never seems to work!

  7. Worlds upon worlds

    On Christmas Eve we eat pierogi
    Some filled with potatoes
    Some with cabbage Not eating
    Meat is no longer required.
    We do it because it is something
    Left over from our childhood
    We learned about the Christ Child
    Before our friends told us of Santa
    Who slides down the chimneys with
    A sack full of toys..

    We always knew it was mother
    And father filling the stockings
    and all the bright packages under
    The tree. Which came from a field
    Back of our house. Our father chopped it
    We decorated together. We helped our
    mother roll the dough for kolachke with
    fillings of poppy seeds, or honey and nuts

    On holidays when memories rise to the surface
    like bread in the oven which later we will eat
    What do we take with us? What is forgotten?
    What do our children pass on to their own?
    The ocean is wide, not as wide as the past.
    What do we teach them of the faith of their
    Fathers in a world of images, plastics and woe.

    My daughters ask me how to make bread. How
    Does this delicate .yeast make it rise? This I
    Can show them, from flour and water, some sugar
    And eggs some mysterious process I don’t quite
    Understand. Like the faith that we carry in a world
    of unkindness a spark of caring we can show for
    each other, all brothers and sisters, most blessed of ties.

  8. Florida Bound

    Juggle jet costs, find flight time allowing
    us to wake past dawn. Mom declares, if
    we hadn’t moved thousands of miles
    away, there’d be no to-do.
    Ten hours later, roll
    off plane, into car,
    night air stifling.
    Mom has turned

  9. Hi! Here’s my family’s attempt to be prepared:

    The letters to Santa
    Have long been written,
    And sent on their way,
    The crazy ordeal of
    The last minute shopping
    Is looming ahead.
    The yearly trial
    Of marriage substance –
    Arranging the tree–
    Is seriously dreaded,
    But can’t be escaped.
    The house is a mess.
    And all of a sudden
    My son comes carrying
    His sister’s ‘boy-doll’.
    He says that it’s Jesus,
    And makes a manger,
    And brings gifts to him.
    And all of our burdens
    Are seen as weightless,
    And shoulders straighten.
    We put on Sinatra,
    He’s singing us carols,
    Like no one else can.
    We light Advent candles,
    We pray at mealtime,
    We start to prepare.

    Thank you for the prompt!
    Alexandra (The Happy Amateur)

      • Thank you, Henreitta! We’re going to have another crazy busy day over here (today is the ‘trial of marriage substance’ day – please, wish us luck with the tree! – plus making a ginger bread house, cleaning our house…and the list goes on and on.) We’ll try hard to set priorities, preserve sanity, and keep the spirit alive!

    • Yes, but each intricate moment, Alexandra, is a thing of great Beauty and Loving Tradition; it is simply “there” for you all. Enjoy… With Warmth to you and yours, “Hen”

  10. reminder note to myself…

    Poinsettia for the table
    Bloom of festivity
    Pretty little angel
    To grace the Christmas tree
    Lights and pretty candles
    Lending their gentle glow
    In tiny golden circles
    Wee choirs in the snow

    Cookies, cakes and puddings
    In volumes quite obscene
    Large and tiny presents
    Wrapped in bright red and green
    Songs extol the season
    And malls the latest rave
    Excuses become reason
    As dollars become brave

    Stress finds brand new victims
    And cheer loses its mirth
    All in the preparation
    To celebrate His birth
    Shopping lists extended
    Beyond the budget’s creed
    Holly, jolly merchants
    Disguising greed as need

    Christmas Eve descending
    We brave the cold perhaps
    To find within a chapel
    A pew, where we collapse
    My house sure looks amazing
    The food, a work of art
    Wouldn’t it be something
    If this had been my heart


    • I liked your poem, but I’m so sorry you feel that way right now. Try watching ‘Charlie Brown’s Christmas’, Janet 🙂 Seriously, it’s a sweet cartoon, and Charlie lives in each of us, I know I can certainly relate to him. The spirit of Christmas is there, it hasn’t gone anywhere. Rejoice and be glad! With very warm wishes,

      • Thank-you Alexandra. I love Charlie Brown. He is my favorite, and I am excited for Christmas, but sometimes sadly without meaning to it seems I get caught up in the ‘mas’ rather than the Christ. This is a note to self not to put so much pressure on making sure everything ‘looks’ good ,but in finding it genuinely in my heart.

        Merry Christmas and thank-you so much for your thoughts;)

    • “wouldn’t it be something if this had been my heart” – Janet, this brought tears to my eyes (not all that hard to do these days, truth be told but this was unexpected, it struck so close to home) – I love your poem and think we could probably all take a page on some level – the need to dial it back a bit, really enjoy the season, getting lost beneath all the rest … well put.

  11. Believe me you are not alone in getting caught up… We’re trying to stay cool, but there’s just so much pressure, and so much excitement, it’s hard to cope sometimes, and to keep the important things in sight. But we’ll get there! Merry Christmas, and thank you again for visiting my blog! It’s nice to meet you,

    • Thank-you Alexandra, I really appreciate your understanding:)
      Yes, I will see you in the New Year. Alexandra, I love to write and because of it I am going to try to set that part of me aside and devote my full attention to my ‘present moments’ for the next few weeks.

  12. You Better Watch Out…

    I think it all started
    The day the tree went up….
    The fighting seems to be less,
    Something of a miracle
    With girl of nine, boy thirteen.
    It was subtle at first –
    I hardly noticed –
    Till I heard him offer a compliment,
    Then two…. without being prompted.
    They went running together yesterday,
    And he let her keep up,
    Then, when leaving for school
    I heard ‘I love you’ from down their hall,
    Followed by ‘love you too’.
    I have not heard name calling or
    Exchanged insults in days,
    And just this morning
    He took out the trash…
    Without being asked,
    And she fed the dogs.
    In our hurrying to and fro
    We almost missed one of
    The greatest joys of the season –
    Seems it is not just the adults
    That are getting prepared.

  13. Pingback: Preparations, Busy Lady (a Barlette) « Sharp Little Pencil

  14. FYI, the old form “3 = x + poem” I invented didn’t go over, in part because it was a stupid name! It is now called the Barlette, in honor of my dad, Bud Barlow, who could recite verse upon verse of Kipling and Service. Happy birthday, Dad (5 days early, he would have ben 101.)

    Preparations, Busy Lady (a Barlette)

    So many items tempt me
    at the small shops on State.
    Thusfar, these are some:
    (of the sum total)

    Warm socks for homeless men
    and women, so desperate are these
    forgotten people in need.
    (Mary and Joseph)

    Diapers – disposable, as baby’s
    parents are provided a garbage bin
    by the City of Madison.
    (swaddling baby Jesus)

    Donations, dough for digs that
    ministers are hunting out and heating;
    shelters, daytime rest and a hot meal.
    (Magi, bearing gifts)

    A homeless man died on a bench in front of
    the Capitol Dome (ironic unless you live here);
    Gov. charges $75 for “advocacy groups” to enter.
    (No room at his inn)

    If ever there was a season for advocacy,
    for caring for the poor and despairing,
    if not now – when? One prayer to offer.
    (Christmas is about giving “Jesus style”)

    © Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

    • nicely done, Amy…I know it should make me thoughtful and maybe sad, but it also makes me angry and wanting to scream…Walker is only a symptom of a larger illness, and, I think that if he did not exist, the left would have had to invent him…people have knives and forks, and if they don’t have food, they have to cut something…like I said, nicely done, I don’t think I’ll require coffee this morning

    • Oh Amy – as always, your compassionate eloquence shines through your advocacy – cold, cold Madison sounds unfortunately much like my Arctic berg as far as the homeless and folks in need (I don’t think we’ve had anyone die on the Legislature steps yet – but it is locked and so it’s not beyond the pale here either) … I love this form you’ve invented to honour your Dad. Will give it a try if I think I have it figured out. A wonderful poem about preparedness …

  15. Prepping …

    As with most repetitive operations
    There is a protocol, a system
    That once organized – the run-up
    Should run smoothly, like clock-work

    “Should run smoothly like clock-work”
    That is, of course, the important phrase
    No matter how many file cards
    I fill out designating tasks to be done

    No matter how far in advance
    Those cards say I will begin:
    Shopping, baking, decorating
    To de-stress myself, and/or others

    Somehow it seems, every year
    I manage to defy the file-cards
    Rebelling, saying, oh they’re overkill
    Until, Christmas Eve … when
    I’m so not prepared.


  16. Pingback: Advent: Day 19 « Magical Mystical Teacher

  17. Pingback: Last Prompt Roundup of 2011: The Friday Freeforall « Margo Roby: Wordgathering

  18. Sorry this one is late; preparations for Christmas interferring with my muse. 😀


    When all is done
    and said
    The guests are gone
    and fed
    Only then can I say
    if on the day
    My preparations
    served us well.

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