Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Christmas Orange!

photo by ana traina ~ 2011 ~
The Christmas Orange

Let me tell you a story
From time long ago,
Of a child in Denmark
Quite lost in the snow.

Both her parents had passed
From this earth full of strife,
So, alone she was facing
The trials of life.

The town constable found her,
And took her away
To a building of stone,
All dismal and gray.

She was frightened and cold,
For the hour was late.
She was given some bread,
Which she hungrily ate.

She was taken upstairs
To a room full of beds
Where the other lost orphans
Had just laid their heads.

When the gaslights were out,
And the caretakers gone,
There were whispers and
Child-like carryings-on.

For the next day was Christmas,
And then they would see
In the parlor a wondrous
Bright evergreen tree.

There the chains made of paper
And berries on strings
Would become the most magical
Marvelous things.

On the branches the candles
Would flicker with light,
And shine in the faces of
Children so bright.

Every year each was given
The same little gift—
An orange—so special
In times of great thrift.

With excitement, the child
Crept out from her bed.
She hoped for a glimpse
Of the splendor ahead.

As she went down the stairs,
A hand grabbed her arm.
She startled with fear
And was filled with alarm!

The headmaster had caught her--
His voice was so stern
While explaining the lesson
That she soon would learn.

Now remorse overtook her,
But it was too late.
No gift on the morrow
Would be her sad fate.

The sentence pronounced,
She returned to her room.
Her excitement became
Inescapable gloom.

In the morning, the others
Went down to the tree.
But the child stayed behind--
Alone she would be.

She knew that the children
Their orange would receive.
But her lack of the gift
Would cause her to grieve.

She peeked out from her quilt
As the children returned.
But she tried to keep smiling
And look unconcerned.

They gave her a napkin
Tied round with a bow.
They all were excited
Their gift to bestow.

She unwrapped the small present,
And there was revealed
A ripe juicy orange
All sectioned and peeled!

With a gasp of surprise, she said,
“How could this be?
I was told there would be no
Such present for me!”

It was then that she learned
Of their motives so pure--
Each had given one section
Of orange to her!

Such concern for another
By children who cared
Showed the spirit of Christmas
Unselfishly shared.

Courtesy of an Anonymous Author

Every year around this time, when the air turns crisp, I get a crazy craving for clementines. Yesterday, when I returned home after one of the busiest days I had in months, I was greeted by the strong scent of citrusy childhood memories.  Sitting in my Grandmother Rose’s cramped but very bright kitchen on Kingsbridge Avenue in the Bronx. Sucking the sweet juice out of the little slices of Christmas oranges she always had, handing me slice by slice, as she told me the story of the little orphaned girl and the beauty of sharing.  When I investigated where this wonderful perfume emanated from within my own home I found a lovely box of clementines sitting on my kitchen counter waiting for me to delve into wintry and Christmasy pasts.  A small gift of shared citrus wonder.