A Christmas Song | Come Inside & Warm Yourselves


"Come in, come in,” my grandmother would sing from her tar-paper porch, the plastic Santa on the door, and the glass wind-chimes tinkling, two below zero on Christmas day; (the drifts had blown over the road). 

“Come in where it’s warm; Grandma has been waiting for you,” her stove heating the room, the peculiar little stove with the amber glass through which one could see the flames of hell. 

The turkey, as large as a small banker, a short-of-stature accountant, in the oven, and the feast would commence with the raspberry candies and Rice Krispies bars and the cereal salted with celery and butter and Worcestershire. 

A bottomless pit they called me, a feasting machine, as I ate and played with my uncle’s toys from the Great Depression: the cast-iron race car, the Humpty Dumpty figurine, and the decaying rubber ball swirled with golden stars and the teeth marks of a terrier long since gone to feed the gooseberry thatch with his poor forgotten body. 

My body would chime with the carols of angels that sang directly above us from heaven, high clear notes that crystallized in form and fell filling the outside air with a delicate cold lace. 

My uncle would arrive sequined with the songs of angels, he a black-bearded Santa from a pirate ship of Christmas swag, his shoulder bracing a bag of small, wrapped trinkets for the bingo game and the exchange of jealousies and family memory. 

My mother would have an eggnog spiked with whiskey and would laugh swaying, half dancing to the music which now bellowed the diesel locomotive blare of big band trombones, a blonde singing “I’ll be Home for Christmas,” her hair wavy and glistening with gel, her hips satin and curved like a violin. 

And then the small cathedral would light up on the end table, and I would peek inside at the tiny people attending mass under the celestial light of one white Christmas bulb. 

“Come inside, come inside,” my grandmother would say to my cousins at the door. “Come inside and warm yourselves!”  They in their hunting caps decorated with the long, shimmering feathers of pheasants. 

Come inside, snow. Come inside, angels. Come inside, music of the air.  Come warm yourselves by the fires, the only fires we have, though ambered by the uncertainty of birth, the bodies we discover every time we wake; warm them by the fires we can see through the dark amber, flickering and steadily consuming something never consumed; come inside and warm yourselves and let the angels sing in the lacy air.

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