another Christmas
the dog and I
grow whiter

Joanne Watcyn-Jones
raking stones (Ozku, 2012)


With Christmas fast approaching, this haiku connected with me in a number of ways, evoking a sense of nostalgia and the poignancy of time passing.

Christmas can be a reflective time and a lonely time for many. Perhaps the writer shares these thoughts, but with no knowledge of her background I can only use personal experience to guide my interpretation of her haiku.

The words conjure memories of Christmases shared with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, many of whom have since passed. Decorating the family Christmas tree, the anticipation and excitement of Santa delivering a sought-after gift and leaving out food for his hard- working reindeers are distant memories. The joy of upholding those traditions for one’s own children is no longer necessary.

I recall the simplicity of a post-war Christmas. Real Christmas trees, simply decorated with handmade paper chains and items made in the last weeks of school before summer holidays; homemade crepe paper streamers and hats; cleverly constructed paper decorations that unfolded to form lantern and ball shapes to hang in doorways.

Roast dinners of chicken or lamb, no turkey, prepared in my grandparents’ minimal kitchens with only the assistance of gas-fired Early Kooka ovens. Christmas pudding with threepences inserted and served with lashings of custard. It wasn’t about the pudding but the prestige of finding the most threepences.

Cards were sent and received in abundance. In the weeks leading up to Christmas hardly a day would go by without the postie putting something in the mailbox. With today’s technology there are so many ways to keep in touch that the Christmas card now plays only a minor role.

The thoughtful giving and grateful receiving of simple gifts has all but disappeared. With more disposable income the wrapping of a gift already chosen by the recipient and the rise and rise of the voucher have diminished  ‘the Spirit of Christmas’.

It is apparent that the writer, like me, is not in her youth. Her hair is growing whiter along with that of her dog. The use of the word ‘another’ suggests that she has seen many Christmases come and go, along perhaps with some of her happiest memories and she is now contemplating the fact of growing older with her loved canine as companion.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxCommentary by Carol Reynolds


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