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Work in Progress – Dec. 8, 2022

Locations: Fiction, Opinion Published

The last Christmas
By Shelly Merriam
Dec. 25, 2009

The square table was set for four 
A homespun family cloth and folded napkins 
Cobalt blue heirloom dinnerware and goblets 
It all came from another table in another time

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The small tree, unpacked from its box 
stood taller than its three-foot reach 
Illuminated, the branches gently held glass balls, 
velvet poinsettias and bows. 
A “boombox” played cassette tapes 
of Christmas music past

With Santa’s help, 
beneath the tree were wrapped gifts 
From her, a sweater for him
always blue, to match his eyes
From him, silk pajamas for her 
Gifts they would have chosen for each other 
if they could have 

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There were large glittering cards
with sentimental scenes 
and endearing words of love 
for eternity…
They would have read and spoken to each other
if they could have
He with macular degeneration 
and she, dementia 

Under the tree, Christmas stockings 
I had made decades ago
each with their image. 
He with Brillo silver hair 
a cigarette loose in his mouth 
and a salesman’s tie 
She with white-looped yarn hair 
chocolate button eyes 
and holding a large kitchen spoon

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In her stocking was a fresh orange 
a treasure in every stocking of her 91 years 
And a dark chocolate bar 
like her father would bring 
from Dilbert’s Candy Store
in Atchison, Kansas

Christmas dinner was tupper-toted 
prime rib, rare, seasoned to perfection 
plated with crisp-skinned baked potatoes
with a buttery heart 
His favorite

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A salad of garden greens, orange disks 
avocado slices, toasted slivered almonds 
and orange vinaigrette 
For dessert, dark chocolate mousse cake 
and flutes of champagne
Her favorites 

We sang
the old familiar grace
Told stories of Christmas past
and memories 
flickered in the candlelight

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The small room for four 
at the nursing home 
was becoming a precious Christmas memory 
just when we thought it 


Tags: #Shelly Merriam #The Sopris Sun #Work in Progress
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