Christmas Eve

by Richard Epstein (Washington, DC)

I wore socks on my hands as I played
kick-the-can in the middle of the cobblestone court.
The neighborhood kids asked me to sneak
some of my mom’s potato kugel and mandle bread.
They promised to trade pierogies and kielbasa
the next time we play.

No one asked about the flickering candles
in the front window of our house.
No one asked why we didn’t have
a Christmas tree. That night, I sat
on the parlor floor in front of the tall
Philco radio, while mom darned socks
and dad fell asleep with the newspaper
held high in his hands.

I listened to Buffalo Bob to see if Santa
received my letter. I asked for a Red Flier
and Captain Midnight Secret Decoder Ring.
Grandma stopped rocking and looked up
from her knitting when she heard Buffalo Bob
announce my name on the radio.
“Vas es daas?”  she asked.

We listened to the Lone Ranger, Jack Benny,
the Shadow and the Creaking Door.
After every one was asleep I tip-toed
down the creaky stairs and left a glass
of milk and cookies on top of the radio.

I shut my eyes tight and made a wish
for Santa to bring me a something other
than a wooden dreidel, a cap and bag of socks
from my Aunt, Chanukah gelt
and a shiny lump of coal.

Richard Epstein lives in the Washington DC area and is active in the Warrior Poets sponsored by Walter Reed Medical Center, the Veterans Writing Project and he hosts an open mic venue for veterans and friends of veterans on the National Mall in Washington, DC every Veterans Day and Memorial Day.

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