Stop! Don’t buy wrapping paper! I use the Wall Street Journal — makes a nice grey background for a red/green magic marker sentiment (“Arnie and Sue, this is for you!”), spares the environment, saves money. I used to save New Yorker covers throughout the year and then tape them together for the same purpose, but the Journal is a lot less work.

And with each gift should come a poem. Preferably in the form of a riddle.

“Come rain or come shine,
You’re my kinda fella,
So I went out and got you
This brand new um—— !”

How hard is that?

If you’re wondering where I got such an astonishing talent, it’s simple: my Mom. OK, so neither one of us may ever threaten Rita Dove (U.S. poet laureate), let alone Maya Angelou (“good morning!”). But consider what my Mom came up with, some years ago, when asked to write a poem for Christmas:

My Christmas message is quite short:
Give to others your support.
Count your blessings, help the needy . . .
It makes you happy, yes indeedy!
Self-involvement makes you sad;
Espouse a cause and you’ll be glad.
Put out some roots and find a goal
And peace and joy will fill your soul.

It is rhymes like “yes indeedy” that have kept my Mom from rising into the first poetic tier. The Pulitzer committee was this close to recognizing her gift until they stumbled over “yes indeedy.” But for anyone sad around the holidays — an easy thing to be — it’s not a bad poem to tape to the bathroom mirror. Yes indeedy.

Happy holidays!



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