Well, it’s now the busiest weekend of the year – the weekend before Christmas – and I’d better get this post up while you’re still figuring out how to celebrate, what to give people, and so on. Following on from my Ten ways to celebrate National Poetry Day post, I thought it might be nice to see how poetry can inform and enrich, like a rum-soaked cherry in a Stollen, the Yuletide as well.
So here are some suggestions:
1. Simple: give someone a book of poetry. Treat it like a novel: give someone a collection you loved.
There have been so many great poetry books this year, but there’s one that made me almost gasp with its sheer Christmassyness – by which I mean, it reminds me of the books my parents gave me for Christmas when I was growing up, and for that reason alone I love it. It makes me feel like I’m ten and reading by the Christmas tree, surrounded by my aunts and uncles. It’s Daljit Nagra’s gorgeous and humorous, and beautiful-looking, multicultural Ramayana. Get it for someone you love.
2. Or, if you’re a bit broke, copy out a poem in lovely writing on nice paper, and roll it up, tied with a ribbon. You can write the poem yourself or use one by someone else, but if it’s by someone else, remember to write their name at the bottom!
3. Listen to the words of this; they’re better than most Christmas carol words, and that’s because they’re a poem by Christina Rossetti. But having said that, if you sing Christmas carols and listen particularly to the words, you’ll find that they often are very colourful and poetic.
4. Have a read-aloud session in that lull after Christmas dinner. Have a couple of favourites handy: The Highwayman, Tennyson, The Night Before Christmas… Things that were written to be read aloud. Don’t be afraid to ham it up. You’ll release almost as many endorphins as if you were singing.
5. Or play a game where everyone in the room writes a poem, one stanza at a time, with only the last line showing to the next person. Use rhyme. It’s Christmas.
6. Write a little poem and send it out to your friends as an email card.
7. Type out some little poems and tie or tape them to your Christmas crackers.
8. Read up on poets born in the Christmas weeks:
- Carol Ann Duffy, 23 Dec 1955
- Juan Ramon Jimenez, 24 Dec 1881
- Eliza Cook, 24 Dec 1818
- Dorothy Wordsworth, 25 Dec 1771
- William Collins, 25 Dec 1721
- Thomas Gray, 26 Dec 1716
- Liz Lochhead, 26 Dec 1947
- Rudyard Kipling, 30 Dec 1865
- WD Snodgrass, 3 Jan 1926
9. The kids, the kids! Get them to write little poems to put on everyone’s plate at Christmas dinner. Like place cards, only to read and keep.
10. Watch this. You won’t be able to HELP having a happy Christmas!