“Marley was dead, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it. And Scrooge’s name was good upon ‘Change for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail.”

― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

And thus begins the second most famous story of Christmas. Dickens tale has stood the test of time and every re-telling brings a new perspective to the season. And of course, we know the story. Skinflint Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by three spirits of Christmas. The past, present and future of Scrooge’s life is revealed to provide a great lesson.

We are writing a “spirit” of Christmas. From your personal experience, write a past, present or future poem as you’ve lived it. The season fast approaches. As we prepare, lets reflect on how we can better ourselves from the lessons so learned, poetically.



Ebenezer needed convincing,
to get through the night without wincing,
the spirits of Christmas sent to reveal
how his Christmas spirit was a big deal.
What Ebenezer had done in the past,
brought him to now. How could he not learn?
He had burned many a chance at life
and romance and his macabre dance
was a dark transgression. In his profession,
he should have been told that time
was as valued as gold. But, behold his fate.
It’s not too late for redemption.
Without exemption he should know
that what he is now is because of who he was.
Who he’ll be tomorrow will be filled with sorrow
if he didn’t borrow the lessons that today
could bring him. The present is all
he has to rely upon. And on review, it is true.
Make the most of your Christmas present.
What you value today will go a long way
toward the happiness you can bring.
Know that Father Christmas will stay because.
I’ll be your forever Santa Claus.

© Walter J Wojtanik 

103 thoughts on “PROMPT # 363 – MARLEY WAS DEAD


    Once, some shepherds heard a song
    recalling dreams they’d harbored long,
    and nothing since has been the same.

    Once, some magi travelled far,
    preceded by a gleaming star,
    and nothing since has been the same.

    Once, a woman bore a son,
    a babe some named the Holy One,
    and nothing since has been the same.

    Ages since have come and gone,
    but still that child and star and song
    plead love for hate and right for wrong
    and never change, but stay the same.

  2. I should comment here. The prompt calls for writing a poem about a Christmas “… as you’ve lived it..” I wrote a version of this 30 years ago, at a Christmas party; someone wrote music for it at that same party and intended to publish it, but nothing came of that. So, in a way, this does follow the prompt, albeit it seems not to.


    There once was a small boy.
    A little runt still wet behind the ears.
    His years were few and innocent.

    The youth of his days—
    were green with promise, chock full
    of hope to live a mature life.

    His limbs hung like young branches,
    that would grow into great tree trunks
    planted by the river.

    His strength was naive—
    but flowed like the fluid sap
    of an mighty oak with fresh roots.

    He dwelled amongst a crowded forest—
    but the forest did not know him,
    his roots were foreign in his own soil.

    He grew painfully alone against
    the pale moonlight—Sulking in silver
    puddles of darkness, weeping in shadows.

    He knew only to trust the sunlight by day,
    taking comfort in her steady streams,
    relishing in buckets full of golden light.



    There were three men.
    They walked simultaneously,
    but strangely enough, in a single file

    They appeared to be the same,
    but again, strangely enough, they were
    distinguished from one another like siblings.

    Perhaps one could be the youngest,
    one could be middle age, and the other
    would be the eldest of them all.

    Suddenly they began bickering and
    fighting with one another, arguing defiantly,
    until I couldn’t tell who was who.

    Dust kicked up into a great cloud
    surrounding them, blinding me as I
    sought to see the outcome.

    It took a few moments for it to finally
    settle down, to see clearly, but
    I was very eager to see who was the winner.

    I discovered, oddly enough, there
    was only one man left standing. And
    there was no trace left of the others.

    So I approached him saying, “where is the
    youngest sibling?”

    He responded with a smile and said, “I let
    go of the past.”

    I said, “well, then where is the eldest sibling?”

    He said, more seriously this time, “we don’t
    have tomorrow.”

    Then he looked at me very sternly and said,
    “We only have today.”

    Benjamin Thomas

  5. One of the great joys in my writing life was being honored with a bloom from Walt, when I planted the original of this poem, back when the garden was just getting started.

    Blue Mirror (an update)

    She asked about the blue mirror we
    had packed and moved a few times
    but never used for anything,
    so I told her the story of how,
    from the time I was four or five,
    my mother would put it on
    the four by five cedar chest we used
    as an end table, but
    at Christmas time, we’d
    put fake snow and little people on it
    to make a festive scene.
    I’m 77 now, and through the years,
    a lot of stuff has disappeared, like
    lamps and photos and baseball cards.
    People, too.
    I’ve lost dogs and cats, some car keys,
    the home I grew up in,
    even my mother,
    who died suddenly one September,
    and we didn’t have Christmas
    after that for a long time,
    what with sadness,
    and later, for me, war.
    I never lost that blue mirror, though.

    Then I met her, and I had very little stuff,
    but I had her, and that was more than enough.
    Her family was big on Christmas,
    so after we returned from our December honeymoon,
    we went to her growing-up home,
    watched her baby sister
    put the ornaments on their tree,
    the round ones made with
    a glitter and a glue stick,
    the ones with everybody’s names on them,
    and we were the last ones to go up,
    smack dab in the center front,
    apparently a place of honor,
    to much oohing, ahing and smiling.

    My dad was there,
    our first Christmas in forever.
    It was cold, really cold, but
    our hearts melted.
    So, the blue mirror, remember? After
    we moved to a town with lots of folks,
    one where we could have visitors, we
    started to decorate excessively. Too much
    was still not enough, with wreaths and
    themed trees and garland and such. she
    said we should bring out the blue mirror and
    make a scene, so we went looking for
    fake snow and little trees and people.
    Then Department 56 happened,
    and a train set happened,
    and more Department 56 happened,
    and I built display tables and drilled holes
    and did dangerous, overloaded wiring
    and it was big and grand and good,
    and all of our friends loved it,
    and more Department 56 happened,
    and a storage locker to hold it all happened.
    I think I mentioned that I’m 77 now.
    Those boxes and tables got heavier,
    that wiring got more painful to connect.
    We’ve lost a few more people,
    there’s this talk about voluntary simplicity.
    Still have that blue mirror, though.
    We thought we’d soon start a new tradition,
    borrow from the past, bring out the older,
    garage sale the newer.
    But, then, like dancing lessons from God,
    our crazy old world demanded even more simplicity.

    So, what to do?
    Krinkles accessories,
    all the Santa ornaments,
    and the clowns,
    and the reindeer,
    and the snowmen,
    and the angels,
    and…oh, what the heck,
    we can’t just sell them on Ebay,
    even as the people stopped stopping by.
    Well, we found our Christmas spirit,
    donated much to charities hurt by the plague,
    and they sold them to support their good works,
    gave them to the children in their lives.
    Then it occurred that young families
    might start their own traditions,
    find the spirit of
    their own blue mirror,
    so off went much of the remainder.
    Just down the street though,
    so we can visit and see their joy.
    The mom wants to pay us for our generosity,
    but we’ll have none of that.
    We’ve already been paid,
    by the thoughts of children and their imaginations.
    And after all, we kept the blue mirror,
    the one in the closet,
    and the one in our hearts.

  6. Like an Etude

    I lost hope at age four
    when Santa’s sack of presents
    became only a lumpy pillows piled
    in the rocking chair by the sofa bed
    spent thousands of hours trying
    to find some sense of trust
    the magic of the season
    but learned not to hope rather
    than endure bitter disappointment

    found myself always doing for others but
    still grasping for the elusive
    trying to live in the moment building
    however late it might seem for the future
    set the saw to cut the tree and be
    content just to create beauty
    in this my micro universe

    haul the long crocheted scarves
    to drape fences outside
    the homeless shelter just because
    my lap already full of another
    afghan to toss over the second-
    hand sofa for your son another
    thousand stitches love and yarn

    practice hope like a new etude
    decorate the mantle that is the
    of the flea market entertainment center
    the ancient crèche opposite the ceramic
    Santa salvaged from my husband’s crazy
    Childhood hope becoming intrinsic
    To staying alive like water

    for my soul like not unlike what I pour
    into the reservoir turning a lonely pine
    into a glowing Christmas tree decked
    in ice blue and silver woodland birds
    rustic pinecones tinseled strands of r/hope
    binding it all together girding myself

    so I remember I do this for me
    to be my better/best self for the new
    little guy that climbs on my lap
    hoping to feed his spirit with hope
    borrowed from the wind the fistfuls
    of bittersweet euonymus he plucks
    like feathers from the sky while
    balanced atop his slippery slide
    letting myself glory in his/my
    re-creation of newfound joy
    viewed through his eyes
    and never to be extinguished by
    a rocking chair swaying with
    its burden of lumpy pillows and despair.

  7. A Christmas of gifts…

    My brother was home from Vietnam.
    We had all gathered for Christmas.
    Da and I had picked out the tree,
    And it was decorated.
    My niece Kelly was in her toddler years.
    We all rejoiced that Jimmy was home.

    Jimmy handed me a box,
    And I asked who was going to get it,
    And he said it belongs to Da.
    I wrapped it up, and when the presents
    Were to be opened, it was handed to me.
    Inside was a ruby ring, and I smiled
    It was the second ruby given to me.
    Jimmy had bought it while he was away
    For Da to give it me…
    I was fifteen years old.

    I wore that ring every day
    For thirty-one years.
    To me it was a symbol of love…

    The Christmas after Jimmy died,
    I decided to give that ring
    To his daughter
    Who was only a toddler when I had
    Wrapped the gift for me
    Provided by two men I have loved,
    And now both gone.

    I cried as I wrapped it
    For I was parting not only with the ring,
    But I knew within it was the love
    Of these two men,
    But I knew they both had loved Kelly.
    It would be up to her to pass it on to someone she loved…
    Knowing my love was there in it.

    I saw my niece Kelly last night,
    And saw her wearing that ring,
    And it made my heart sing…
    For in her smile as I pointed out to her,
    Was the love we each three had given to her.

    Sometimes I have found
    That letting go of something precious
    For it to become precious to another
    Only adds to the value.
    If that value is love,
    It becomes priceless.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    December 5, 2021

  8. A Christmas Timeline

    A Pennsylvania country home
    We five sisters sure had a blast
    A bit poor, but always had gifts
    A look at Christmas in the past

    One Christmas time we expected
    Our daughter to be born at last
    Brought her home in a red stocking
    A look at Christmas in the past

    Tried to give kids Christmas traditions
    But we moved around too fast
    Different people and places
    A look at Christmas in the past

    The kids are living miles away
    We celebrate with them somehow
    We may be there or on the phone
    A look at Christmas here and now

    But we have no grandchildren yet
    Just three orange cats who say meow
    We exchange memories and gifts
    A look at Christmas here and now

    To remember the Lord and His gift
    Aiming to do that is our vow
    He’s the gift that keeps on giving
    A look at Christmas here and now

    Whether our kids are near or far
    To keep in touch, our rule of thumb
    We might stay longer as years pass
    A look at Christmas yet to come

    As we age and depend on them
    We remember where good comes from
    We may see losses as time passes
    A look at Christmas yet to come

    We’ll celebrate from year to year
    But our frail bodies will succumb
    We will rejoice in His presence
    A look at Christmas yet to come

  9. Hi Bloomers! Sorry to be lagging today. Out of town for a death in the fam, house remodeling (similar to Walt!), and still not “well.” I do plan to read this week and hopefully be able to muster one of my own up before this prompt passes. Hugs to you all!

  10. Walt, I had to write at least one Grinch poem

    The Grinch of Christmas Past

    It would be years before I noticed
    I began to turn green in November…
    Not the pretty green or holly and evergreens,
    More the color of those ugly Christmas sweaters…
    Glad I don’t own any, for it is not a becoming color.

    It began with spending a day, I didn’t have
    Listening to people calling and telling
    What they needed… rent I got, power bill paid I got,
    But a fur coat I didn’t…
    That woman complained because
    She really did need a mink coat…
    Which she didn’t get.
    It was first a bit around my eyes
    And the tips of my toes and fingers
    That began to tinge green…

    But I was still not the grinch,
    My eyes did not gleam red…
    I volunteered to sit with the angel tree
    On a Wednesday night…
    Since the Baptists were at church…
    A very odd crew of people
    Shop during that time…
    I had to convince drunks more than once
    Not to take an angel,
    But advised them to come back
    When they were sober…
    My legs and arms began to turn green…

    It is the first of December,
    And the angel tree gifts fill up my office
    And begin flow into the hall
    Meeting all the other gifts
    From my frazzled coworkers,
    And we all have jangled nerves.
    I am now beginning to snarl…
    And my hair is turning green.

    Parents who have ignored
    Their children for last fifty weeks,
    Are calling and demanding a visit.
    I tell them their contract says
    When they miss all these days,
    They must come to talk to me…
    I am told what they think…of me
    They refuse to visit
    It is my fault….
    I hear myself growl.

    A coworker takes a van
    I had to transport six children…
    There is no day to visit before Christmas…
    I decide to work late…
    Not going to have those children miss Christmas…
    I get to my office after eleven that night…
    I could hear the clock going tic-toc
    And in the distance, I could hear a clock tower
    Strike midnight as I am riding through the town.
    I look into the rear-view mirror and see not me
    But the Grinch grinning ear to ear…

    Somewhere during this time…
    I buy Christmas gifts for everyone from Ma,
    And find time to shop for me also…
    I do up my Christmas cards,
    And after Christmas I begin to return to me.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    December 5, 2021

  11. Pingback: Cheery Christmas Spirits | Experience Writing

  12. The Trip

    In years long
    past, my family
    drove from
    Brooklyn to
    Long Island, where
    cousins waited. In
    their basement,
    a glittering tree,
    skirt scattered
    with gifts for all.
    Ah, those snowy
    rides, Dad driving,
    visible to others
    only by the top of
    his cap. An added
    attraction to Dad’s
    driving was dead
    cigar butts filling
    the ashtray in front,
    nauseating everyone
    in back. This particular
    year, Uncle Bill rode
    home with us. We were
    unaware of his flaring
    prostate problem. In
    freezing darkness, light
    snow, we were slowed by
    Uncle Bill’s discomfort,
    and need to pee every
    few feet. Never forgot
    that tense drive home.
    We were so glad when
    my cousins moved
    to New Jersey.


    There were three boxes,
    precarious in nature next to one another.
    Same in color, design, and size.
    Gift wrapped with perfection.

    The first box was opened—
    with careless eagerness. Wrapping
    shredded to pieces. A noticeable
    gasp, reluctant tears followed.

    Inside were images that only he could see,
    and a card that read: What’s done is done.
    This time is past. The past is not present.

    The third box was opened—
    with less enthusiasm, but with expectant
    eagerness. Inside were things forbidden to see,
    so he closed his eyes.

    There were painful things and a pleasant
    surprise. He heard distant joys, rewards, but something rattled like a snake. So he replaced the lid, stepped away. Refused to take—the gift.

    The second box was opened—slowly,
    eagerness replaced by great trepidation.
    His eyes crept eerily to see what lay inside….

    There was a single card that read: I am the
    the present. Use me wisely, and the other
    two gifts will be a blessing.

    He wept at this, but he didn’t understand
    the gift.

    Benjamin Thomas

  14. The Last Christmas…

    Ma came home, but
    She had gone back in time…
    I wasn’t her daughter,
    But some imposter
    She would fire five days a week.
    This last Christmas
    I didn’t know that.

    The Christmas before
    We had survived an ice storm
    And no power for three days…
    I was so cold…
    Didn’t know that would be the norm
    In years to come.
    We didn’t decorate…
    No one was coming to visit.
    She was leaving…
    I knew this…
    I asked
    How could I make it
    Without her.

    This last Christmas
    There were no visits
    From friends…
    A few calls,
    And all I knew
    Somehow, I would make it.

    I made it with prayer…
    I prayed for others
    And kept them in my heart.
    Each morning
    Each evening
    I lit my candles and prayed…
    It was my quiet moments
    Alone in the storm
    Of Ma dying.

    She had a sitter,
    Who shared her life,
    And became my friend…
    I was blessed with gifts
    I did not expect to receive.

    Her last Christmas,
    I sang her songs of Christmas,
    And her eyes more often blank
    Had a light I was missing
    The essence of her was still there,
    And that essence would be
    What I would miss
    As she left.

    Nothing has felt right
    At Christmas since she left us.
    I am welcomed by friends and family,
    But is hard because I miss
    Those eyes which danced with mischief
    As she created a surprise for someone,
    And I miss the boiled custard
    She would make each winter
    For us to drink, and
    Her applesauce fruitcake
    Which was more cake than fruit.
    How she loved us all…
    How she gave more than she ever received…

    It is because of all that missing…
    That when it gets closer to Christmas day
    I choose to spend it alone…
    Not to grieve the loss of her,
    But to remember
    When we were us,
    Knowing it is now only me
    That remembers how that was.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    December 6, 2021


    My brother and I had
    A Christmas strategy
    We knew what time
    Mom and Dad would be done
    Playing Santa
    We set our alarms
    Around 3 am
    Time we could tip toe
    Into the living room
    Making sure the soft lights
    Left on by our parents
    Indicating Santa had come and gone
    Were on and our coast
    Was clear
    We were careful to not wake up
    Our two younger sisters
    We quickly looked at all
    The perfectly wrapped presents
    Fairly certain we knew the contents
    Of ours
    Based on our requests, of course
    Anything unwrapped
    Got our once over
    With a fast nod to each other
    ‘Good, they read our list’!
    Once we were happy
    With everything we saw
    We’d nod again
    Scurrying back to bed
    With everything back in place
    For our fake race
    Out in the morning
    Making sure those subtle lights
    Were still on
    Reassuring our parents
    That Santa was still a surprise
    Being sneaky
    Satisfied our curiosity
    And our need to be stealthy
    And quick
    Pretending like they wanted us to
    That we didn’t know
    Who was stacking the tree
    All those years of the wonder
    Of Christmas
    I no longer peek and hide
    Or just confide to the one
    Who I am stealing looks with
    On Christmas
    I still like to play
    At the holiday
    Being subtle with a hidden gift
    For a lift or two
    Yet I know
    The greatest gifts I have
    Are those people around the tree
    And not what’s under it
    But I still like the great look
    Of surprise
    With no disguise
    When the joy that’s there
    Comes popping through
    I know each time
    Every time
    Those precious moments
    Will do

  16. Christmas is just another day…

    People move on, and forget those that loved them.
    It happens all the time.
    They have their Christmas parties,
    And go to mass,
    But forget those who can’t be there.

    It is difficult to be forgotten.
    After Ma died, I had one or two
    Whom I loved tell me
    That since she was gone
    They would not include me
    In their celebrations.
    I knew I wasn’t the one that they loved.

    There are a few that always include me,
    And I love that they do.
    Even if I chose not to go,
    I know that I am included,
    And they will miss me.

    My friends are loyal and true,
    And we often get together
    To laugh and be silly,
    And talk serious,
    And those I know
    Will never desert me.

    I will get by…
    But my heart goes out
    To those whose friends have died,
    And family doesn’t have time for them…
    Who will bring them joy
    When there is only faded tinsel
    On their tiny trees?
    Who will see them
    As person of worth…
    For we all are…

    I remember how I told
    The children who crossed my path…
    You are a person of worth…
    Do not ever let someone take your value…
    I hope my words resonated
    In their souls, and
    Even on those bleak days
    With the sky so gray
    It weighs around their shoulders…
    They are of worth…

    And so are the caretakers,
    And those they care about each day…
    It is a lonely job,
    With no rest…
    Who will bring them comfort…
    Who will bring them cheer…

    The pain I felt once of being ignored
    Reminds me of those
    Living out their days in loneliness…
    Who will bring them joy?

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    December 6, 2021

  17. Walt, your works always impress me, especially in how you use interior rhyming. Many have a light-hearted feel, often interspersed with profundities, such as, in this case, “What you value today will go a long way toward the happiness you can bring.” Masterful.

  18. Tomorrow’s Christmas

    There was a time
    When I looked towards tomorrows Christmas…
    Before I felt empty heart…
    It was as empty as a thousand empty stocking
    Hanging limp on Christmas morning.

    It is not east to rebuild a life
    When all of it was on sand
    That was sucked away
    By tsunami wave that hit me
    Not once but over and over.
    There is nothing more difficult
    Than facing Christmas alone
    Even when you are with people,
    You are alone.

    Grief never ends,
    It just changes the clothes it wears.
    People who think they are being kind
    Tell you to toss that only coat away,
    But once within that coat
    Was filled with a person you loved…
    It never ends…
    And tossing away one coat…
    Means it give you a sweater…

    I would like to think that one Christmas out there
    My heart will feel the joy in the songs…
    And the pretty lights will remind me
    Not of the loss but the memories
    That tumble down the chimney
    Each Christmas for the ghosts
    Of Christmas past come visiting,
    The Christmas of the present…
    More than the rest of the year
    Is filled with the ghosts…
    One Christmas out there
    I hope they will rest
    And leave the joy
    We once all
    Felt when
    We were

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    December 9, 2021

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