Monday, December 16, 2013

Shut Your Eyes And See Christmas

     When I worked at the library I worked in the Youth Department.  We were on the second floor of a large library and our area took up almost half of the floor.
     Being in our own little world upstairs we had opportunities to do things not available to every department.  One was that from Thanksgiving through Christmas we played Christmas CD's at our desk.  Not loudly, just loud enough for the two employees manning the desk to hear and not so loud that phone calls to the desk could not be heard over the music.  I lost a good bit of my hearing about halfway through my 20 years at the library so much of the time I could not hear the music, even with my hearing aides, if the volume was low enough for someone with normal hearing to quietly listen.      
     We had one children's CD that we especially loved and even after hearing became difficult for me if no one else but staff was in the department I was allowed to turn the volume up when this particular poem came on.  The CD was Fred Penner's The Season: A Family Christmas Celebration ... a wonderful CD and not your typical children's CD .. this one is beautiful, not chipmonk-y.  Mr. Penner recites a poem and then it is followed by a verse of "I Heard The Bells on Christmas Day."
      The poem was written by Rose Fyleman, an English writer and poet.  In December 1929 she was invited to Winnipeg, Canada to be a guest speaker at some women's clubs.  One evening Ms. Fyleman and a president of one of the women's clubs took a walk from her hotel to the Manitoba Parliament Building to see the statue of Queen Victoria on the front lawn.  Ms. Fyleman went back to her hotel and wrote the poem "In Winnipeg at Christmas."
      I have never been to Canada.  Every Christmas of mine has been spent in the desert of New Mexico or the plains of the Texas panhandle.  I have had white Christmases but more often than not the weather has been sunshine and fairly warm.  Most often children have no trouble at all riding new Christmas bicycles in t-shirts and jeans, maybe a hoodie or jacket. Even as a child I saw Christmas as something totally different than my experience, obviously colored by things I read.  Then, and now, in my mind I see Christmas as snowy ... 4 feet of snow, at least, and snowmen everywhere.  The colored lights of Christmas decorations blurry because of the big fluffy snowflakes falling.  No matter where you are Christmas carols playing.  Everyone offering Christmas greetings, laughing, happy. Christmas trees, and wreaths and decorations on light poles.  "Ugly Christmas sweaters" that are not ugly to me.  Decorated sugar cookies, beautiful Christmas packages piled under trees, homes packed with loving family.  You can see how I fell in love with the poem below.
      If your library has Mr. Penner's CD check it out and shut your eyes and listen.  You will see Christmas.  If you can't get the CD then shut your eyes and ask your favorite person to read it to you.  If you live alone like me then memorize the poem and recite it to yourself.  It is lovely.
In Winnipeg at Christmas

In Winnipeg at Christmas there’s lots and lots of snow,
Very clean, and crisp and hard
And glittering like a Christmas card
Everywhere you go;
Snow upon the housetops, snow along the street,
And Queen Victoria in her chair
Has snow upon her snowy hair
And snow upon her feet.

In Winnipeg at Christmas they line the streets with trees-
Christmas trees lit up at night
With little balls of coloured light
As pretty as you please.
The people hurry past you in furry boots and wraps;
The sleighs are like a picture book,
And all the big policemen look
Like Teddy Bears in caps.

And oh! The smiling ladies and jolly girls and boys;
And oh! The parties and the fun
With lovely things for everyone-
Books and sweets and toys.
So, if someday at Christmas you don’t know where to go,
Just pack your boxes up I beg,
And start at once for Winnipeg;
You’ll like it there I know.

-Rose Fyleman

Merry Christmas from Betsy to you


  1. What a lovely Christmas gift. Thank you Aunt Betsy:)

    1. You are most welcome. Isn't that just a lovely lovely imagine of Christmas you can see if you listen to that poem?