Choosing among apples at the supermarket
just the other day I heard
Bing Crosby singing “Jingle Bells.”
Background music so I’m told
can motivate a buyer in a store.
But Bing?  Bing Crosby?  This must be

the day marked shopping day for us
I say to a green pyramid of Granny Smiths.
And sure enough here comes a busload
slowly from the home for seasoned citizens.
I doubt the muzak moves them any faster
though most likely they’ll remember Bing.

Bing Crosby, ah, Bing Crosby,
how you crooned and nanna swooned
in nineteen-fifty-something—
how you spun inside the gramophone
seventy-eight revolutions per minute
dreaming of a White Christmas just like

the ones you used to know.  Was that how
I came to think of Christmas mostly as a longing?
Strange and difficult to satisfy.  I try
to re-create the pleasures of the past
(and leave the woundings out), but it’s a task
unfestive, one I’m loathe to be about.

All I hear are someone’s memories.
All I see grows gaudier, each year
more desperate to enforce the thing.
All I want is willingness to let the night be dark
(except for stars), dear friends, these apples
red and green, and (maybe) just a bit of Bing.

15 responses »

  1. A very good reflection, some Christmasses are a wonderful memory and others not so perhaps! The Christmas muzak has not started here yet but I bet it will soon be time for the jinglebells 🙂
    We are going to put the christmas tree up today. Somehow that always is the start of a cosy time. I hope you will enjoy the pre christmas time too. x

    • Thank you for the good wishes, Ina. I’ve just moved, and the people in my new neighborhood are mega-decoraters, when it comes to lights and lawn kitsch. If I kept my window shades open at night, I might think I was nestled among the casinos of Las Vegas….hmmmm there must be a poem in that…Happy tree trimming!

  2. Ah Cynthia this is such a fabulous reflective poem; I can picture you standing in the supermarket with an apple in your hand and your thoughts encircling your mind, (a thought wreath maybe? 😊).
    The cosiness seems to have been ripped out of the run up to Christmas, in favour of dazzling images to encourage spending on tack.

    I remember at home my dad had a Xmas EP of Bing so 45rpm! How modern was that?! And my mum told him to turn the track White Christmas off because it sounded like a dirge!! Ive never been able to listen to it since without feeling the same!!!

    I love how you talk to the green pyramid of Granny Smiths! Such a clever line and one I wish I had written!! 😊 just wonderful, all of it, and all of it true “Cynthia style” xx

    • Wow! 45rpm! You ‘re way ahead of me! Now that you mention it, that song does sound rather dirge-like..(I know from dirges, having grown up upstairs from a funeral home; Dad was the local undertaker). Thank you for the Granny Smith compliment. That line wrote itself–a gift, a happening, as we’ve discussed before. Now with new grandchildren you will know much of the joy of Christmas, and making memories for them. I hope it will be wonderful, and hope also that you know how grateful I am for finding a new friend in you this year!

  3. Oh Cynthia this is yet another haunting poem with your sadness woven into the fabric of the produce department, Bing Crosby, and pile of green apples. You are an expert and it is lovely with a gentle flow and tinges of melancholy. I don’t know how you do it- such skill – a great poem!
    I have always disliked Christmas decorations in our neat home and so this year we decided to skip them – now of course I rather wish that we hadn’t. I need to celebrate love and family – the present as much as the past. Yes, the present, with grandchildren for whom we are creating their memories, as we celebrate their wonder. Hope that the season also brings you some happy new memories. Cheerio, Jane

    • You hit the nail on the head, Jane. Love and family and celebrating the present (even more than the presents) make the joy of the season. I’m not decorating this year, either. My excuse: I’ve just moved, am not totally unpacked, can’t find the ornaments. Life takes us each on different journeys; mine has me at this stage identifying with those who find this season difficult–though I have no wish to dampen the spirits of merrymakers. Comfort and joy to you and yours, and thank you, Jane.

  4. another treasure today, my poet-friend! thank you, thank you! Is there anything more seductive than truth-telling ? Oh, I love it, so resonate with much of what your words here observe!
    I noticed that your new collection is called “Let nothing you dismay!” – from one of my very favorite caroles. That is the sentiment I find most heartfelt for me in this season of so much heartache for so many. And yet, doesn’t it seem that they are lulling us all by all means possible, into a numbness that insists on folks like us burying our darker thoughts and feelings about all this hoopla…so far from the experience of a young woman, 9 months pregnant, travelling by donkey with her husband to comply with the census….and whatever the birth of that child means to each of us, so easily gets lost (or trampled!) by the din and insistence of commerce and the demand that the “season be a success”.
    Thank you, Cyn, for your beautiful, true words! I, too, loved the conversation with the Grannie Smiths!

  5. Cynth,

    The wrapped packages promise so much but what’s inside is by comparison so finite. As a child, I really wanted Colorforms so badly and then got them, but rewrapped the package to contain this glory so as to preserve the moment of desire fulfilled. Then one day I came into my little room and found that my younger brother had opened it and wrinkled the paper and the moment along with it.
    Don’t you think that sounds of Bing Crosby might have stirred the Seasoned Cits to buy just a bit more? Marshmallows maybe? Coconut? Candy?

    • What a wonderful, precious little story, Marta. It reminds me how we tend to see children as uncomplicated but they do have “long, long thoughts.” Like you, I always loved the wrapped gift more than the revealed one. As for Bing, you may be right; he certainly might inspire a certain demographic to a yummy treat…chocolate Santa?…candy cane?…for the inner child.
      I’ve really enjoyed your comment this morning! Hope the snow doesn’t’ dump too heavily on DC.

  6. Thank you for such an eloquent reflection. Life and memory get us when we are in the midst of the most mundane. Bing, Bing Cherries, Apples, Gala Apples—Bing had a pure voice that ornamented my childhood but then he, too, came to the supermarket of merchandising desire. He shilled orange juice on tv, surrounded by his family. I prefer to think of him as Father O’Melley, just out of Gonzaga, melting the heart of Father FitzGibbon.

    • You ‘re so right, and the mundane makes a great part of my experience these days….not like the oldest days, when, at age three I knew all the verses to Father O’Malley’ s “Swinging On A Star”. You ‘re also right about Bing’ s fall from grace in later years…I remember where I was the day he died…in a hotel room watching the news on tv. Thanks so much, Natalie, for the comment and the memory jog. ( though now I’m having trouble recalling what comes after “all the monkeys aren’t in the zoo…every day you see quite a few…”).

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