I think I started avoiding the parents’ home at the holidays during my first years after college. My job in IT made it easy to do because of the holiday work schedule. End of year is an exciting time in a computer center. It’s all about deadlines. After leaving to start my own business, my holidays vanished. That was the time when clients who had time off from their own jobs could leave their family members at home to take care of holiday preparations while they got their special projects over to me to finish up before Christmas or before New Year’s Day. When I made it home, I slept through a lot of the festivities…or wanted to leave early and get back to my place to catch up on my sleep.
Money was tight during most of the thirty years I ran my own business. Marriage, eight years into the thirty, added emotional support, expanded resources, a car, and a second Christmas and Thanksgiving Day to get to every year. One year, a couple years into self-employment, there was no money for a Christmas present for the parents. And so I wrote a poem, copied it (calligraphy, special paper) and mounted it in an old picture frame.
My parents no longer entertain at Christmas. My own siblings have scattered and formed their own holiday patterns and customs.
And so, looking back to a holiday season decades ago, this is the poem that I wrote:
Born of Love
Elizabeth W. Bennefeld
You taught me how to stand apart,
to understand and be myself.
You gave me the courage to walk alone
when none would join me.
You showed me how to look through words
into the worlds that others live in.
You taught me how to listen
with my heart and dare to make
but those born of love.
Note: This poem was written as a Christmas gift to my parents and later published in an anthology featuring works of members of the Australian Chapter of RWA, (WordCraft Publishers, 1999. Copyright © 1986/1999, by Elizabeth W. Bennefeld. All rights reserved.