‘Tis the Season Haībun

There’s nothing sadder in this world than to awake Christmas morning and not be a child.
— Erma Bombeck


When I was a child, I hated suspense, and all my energy went into solving mysteries quickly. I generally figured out who did what where in the game Clue, where the flag was in Stratego and what I was getting for Christmas. Let’s face it, parents have a limited number of places they can hide the loot, nor can they buy it all Christmas Eve after we were in bed. My first acting classes were pretending to be surprised Christmas morning. My motivation came when I was quite young, and I opened gifts Christmas morning and discovered I got nothing I had asked for. My disappointment was plain, and so was the reaction of my crestfallen parents. Thereafter, I made sure to get the genuine reaction out of the way so I would have time to simulate joy.

I was only deprived in my own mind, other kids had less than I did. Our house was warm, I had my own room, I had plenty to eat and even occasionally new clothes. Now that I’m a parent, and I am spoiling my own children (my point of view), I realize that they are not satisfied either. No, that small box does not have an iphone 5 S and, no, that large box is not an XBox.

I will sit down and play board games. I have stories up both sleeves. We can play piano and sing carols together. I will watch movies with them, supplying popcorn and hot chocolate. These few Christmases before they leave to make their own lives have a precious magic, and I plan to enjoy every minute, even the bad ones.

This season, more than any others, our expectations collide with reality, sometimes in a painful way. We long for things. Sometimes material things like an iphone, sometimes just a picture perfect day where all goes well and nothing explodes into unpleasantness, but that isn’t how life works. The more expectations a day has, the more likelihood of disappointment. Sometimes, like when I was a kid, you don’t get what you want, despite putting your whole soul into hoping for it. Sometimes the things you want, you get and they don’t make you happy after all.

I always long for a white Christmas, and here we are knee-deep in snow, the sidewalks are icy and the wind slicing. The lights I put up were knocked down by the weight of the snow and then froze into a snowbank. Yeah. A white Christmas. I have to laugh at myself for wanting snow, although I did enjoy taking the kids sledding with their friends. I can’t count the number of times I bellowed, “Clear the bottom!”

I wanted a piano this year, and I took in a free piano for the cost of moving it, but it is in such bad shape, a tuner has already spent over two hours, and it’s stubbornly resisting all importuning. Yeah. A piano. I’m told it will improve soon, by the tuner, who had to leave for another appointment but whom I long to believe. My kids are thrilled, but I can’t bear the sound of it, and it’s an enormous paperweight at the moment.

Having a sense of irony is what makes it all come right in the end. Someday, I’ll say: remember the time we got all that snow right before Christmas, and the lights we strung all fell off the bushes? We had such a good time sledding. Or: remember the piano that was so bad none of the keys worked?

I hope my children are happy Christmas morning, but if they are not, that’s okay. Someday it will make a funny story, and they will learn to cope with disappointment. Because that’s part of life, too.

Shiny, happy faces,
ruthless ripping of wrapping
What reaction will come?

Oh no! Why end on such a cynical note!?! Even the piano improves with playing. A little.


temperatures rise
icicles drip steadily
our first thaw has come

Copyright 2013 Brenda Davis Harsham

Inspired by the weekly Haībun prompt.

60 thoughts on “‘Tis the Season Haībun

  1. Like others I enjoy reading about these moments in family lives and childhood very much. It brings a lot out of the reader in emotions. Of course on this page one always gets that little bit more, the beautiful, rich description and philosophy. And the questions that form from the suspense you create.
    Apologies for not commenting earlier. Went north to live in a small shack and had very limited time online.


  2. I know what you mean about expectation. 😐 It’s annoying though, we need a certain amount of hope and expectation to create and bring about things in our lives, or even write a poem! 🙂 And yet it seems to take us down a pathway of illusion very quickly, which then causes disappointment! I take disappointment much easier these days, a bit like you explained about your beautiful lights – I guess to some extent that comes with age, at least that’s what I feel it is with me. The ageing girl inside knows not to get ‘too’ carried away, because life is rarely like the nice ending of a Hollywood movie!

    But I’m pleased to hear you had a white Christmas! 🙂 How long have you waited in expectation for a white Christmas? We had one about three years ago, not very deep snow, but enough to call it a white Christmas. But we hadn’t had one of those for nearly twenty years in the south east of the England. Scotland on other hand – they get it every year – buckets!!! 😀 And I really hope you get that piano sorted one day, that’s a real disappointment! 😦


    • We often have a dusting of snow, but this was the first time we’d had deep snow in years. The weather was more similar to February, when winter is at its most severe. We had a nice thaw that took most of it away, though. And another dusting came today, about an inch. Yes, expectations are important to maintain hope and optimism, but they can be too pointed or too specific in some cases. I’ve come to value surprises after all these years. The piano is coming into tune, but it will never be a great piano. It’s better than a digital, though. 🙂


  3. memories remembered are those little moments shared playing games, making crafty things and of course, drinking delicious hot drinks together. a wonderful story, Brenda. Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones. ♥


  4. I am glad our paths have crossed and intertwined. Your posts are really beautiful with thoughtful haikus, fairy tales and positive thoughts. This is a like an oasis of joy for when I get time to read your posts! Thanks and best wishes for the rest of the holiday season! Enjoy those children who are very accomplished and your love has nourished them. Hugs, Robin


    • Aww, I’m grateful, too, sister of my heart. Happy Solstice! Why let a holiday pass by? We are having our first thaw and it’s the longest day of the year. Woo-hoo! I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the ice storm misses us.


  5. Dang…if I had known you wanted a piano…but it does need some repair and it is an old upright. With a harpsichord adjustment… I’ve looked up some of those sites where one can get a free piano – but there are so many there all wanting good homes like puppies and kittens that it just isn’t worth it to add mine to the mix.

    You remind me, with this writing of the ‘Be careful what you wish for…’ adage. Just because she mentioned it in passing one year my sister got a set of drums! The look on her face is captured in a photograph – more surprised confusion than anything.
    And I honestly can’t tell you how long the drum set stuck around.

    Go sledding, have s’mores and hot chocolate and tell stories! Enjoy every minute of every day – hugs ~Jules


    • Absolutely. Tonight we watched the Year Without a Santa Claus, we had to watch the heat miser and cold miser twice. Now my boys want to be the misers for Halloween and I should be mother nature. LOL


      • A few years ago I worked in retail and one of the songs in the loop was the cold and heat miser songs!!! All day! For days. One year one of my sons wanted to be a grasshopper for Halloween… I actually did it. I think the misers will be just a tad easier 🙂 Good luck with that ‘Mother Nature!’


  6. I love your ironic Christmas. Pretty much sums up the reality in many ways but, like you say, lovely to spend the season with your children..


  7. I totally agree Brenda.we are probably more blessed than we care to admit. oh,my- That piano 🙂 sounds like the saga I went through a few years ago; I had this piano,which like you,I got from a very kind neighbour. It was totally out of tune,So I in my not so infinite wisdom,thought I would get a book on tuning,I even bought one of those tuning key things. I started tuning the strings,and what do you suppose happened? The string broke. And it would have cost me more to get the strings replaced than it would to buy a new piano 🙂 needless to say,I have been ‘Borrowing’ the use of my local Churches piano,ever since. Fantastic article. I love your writing style.


  8. Really enjoyable read and one that brought so many memories of less than perfect Christmas days to mind. Having no expectations is very difficult this time of year but nevertheless it is a good practice, for me anyways, to try having none. I hope your holidays are filled with moments to smile about both now and down the road.


    • LOL My Christmases never achieve perfect, but they always seem to achieve memorable. And lots of laughing, games and new toys. 🙂 I wish you lots of love this year, Brenda


  9. A lovely look at real Christmases! I hated the suspense too, but I’m busy creating it in my own children this year. I don’t spoil them often but this year I have gone to town a little. My daughter is sixteen two weeks after Christmas and my son just turned thirteen, and my eldest already flew the nest so I am making the most of the next few Christmases. Enjoy yours, and I hope you have a great year. x


  10. I have had white Christmases and I have had scorching-summer ones and I have discovered that Christmas is equally beautiful wherever I am – cold or hot – Happy Christmas Brenda and to all who surround your space with love and peace! May 2014 be the happiest EVER!


  11. Great post Brenda. They will appreciate your efforts at Christmas when they have their children and are trying to give them the best Christmas they can. These things usually come full circle. 🙂 Wishing you a Merry Christmas…Beth.


    • LOL, You are right! I am sure I was too hard on my parents. They always used to tell me that we didn’t know how good we have it. I’m sure now that they were right. 🙂


    • I like your Santa picture! I’m sure the kids will have good moments. They won’t get everything they want, but they are good kids and will have fun. 🙂 You take care, too! Brenda


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