On Christmas Day, Dad would always smilingly
watch us tear into the gifts Santa “left” us
(even as a kid, I figured—incorrectly—no one
“gave” you anything just because)
and then he would head to the kitchen
to begin making the Christmas feast.
But even after the ham assumed its place
in the oven beneath brown sugar, cloves,
pineapple and ginger ale, Dad didn’t
resurface much into the rest of the house’s
rampant, raucous, ripped-paper riot.
He kept to himself a lot, parked in the kitchen
as Dean Martin or Perry Como warbled
Christmas tunes and he sipped at little glasses
of Manischewitz wine or big ones of beer.
If I gave this any thought at the time, it was fleeting.
I sparked this moment of an old man’s out-of-focus
recall yesterday, as I wrestled with my own
emotional solitary confinement amid
the warm and spectacular sharing of familial joy
surrounding me at this blessed time.
It was both frighteningly revelatory
and a comfort to me. See, I considered myself broken,
a disappointment to my loved ones, who try so hard,
with great affection and understanding,
to buoy Dad-me amid my Christmas castaway ways.
But it turns out I’m just a man who loves
his family and loves Christmas, just not himself,
no matter how he’s wrapped. I’ve thought a lot
about this lately, now that rampant, raucous,
riotous life is fleeting, and I realize I
might just be a regifted version of my dad.