Christmas. Just one week away.

How much a non-day event this becomes the older I get. Not a NON-day actually. Every 24-hour cycle is, technically, a day.

What I should have said is what an ANY day Christmas has turned into over the years. “Special” only because our society and our culture and our religious norms and the calendar itself say it’s so. The requisite time spent with family during the holidays – images of jolly laughter, yuletide carols, warmth and comradery – feels forced, somehow. Contrived. In reality, this time of year is often more stressful and chaotic than it is calming and cleansing. Expectations are high, emboldened by the trappings of social media, for a glitzy, candle-shrouded, Hallmark Cards experience to rival anything Hollywood could muster up on the big screen. We’re bombarded with photographs and images, tweets and postings positively dripping with hygge-inspired loveliness that render our drab, ordinary lives pathetic by comparison.

Here’s an idea. What say we treat every day as special, each day a Christmas? Loving one another, treasuring the earth, showing kindness, embracing gratitude every 24-hour cycle. And for good measure – and for sanity’s sake for ALL of us – let’s shrug off what we think and believe others are doing and how others are living their lives and just focus on what makes US happy for a change?

Now that would be cause for celebration.

I’m thrilled to announce the first publication of one of my poems, Black Picket Fence, which appears in Persephone’s Daughters, Issue Five, Fall 2018. Their About page describes the online publication as ‘a lit magazine dedicated to empowering women who have experienced various forms of abuse and degradation.’

In writing Black Picket Fence, my goal was to revisit an episode from my early twenties, a stark memory of good intentions gone — nowhere — and the shame I experienced when faced with my sheer inability to comprehend how to react when confronted with the damaging effects of domestic violence. Now that I’m older, I recognize how very young I was and how unprepared I was – how unprepared most people might have been – in my situation. I don’t know what happened to this family. This memory has remained, a sad, shameful memory, over the years. I wish I’d done more. I wish I’d known then what to do. The truth is, I felt overwhelmed and powerless and I am so very sorry for my helplessness during this family’s time of need.

Here is the link to Black Picket Fence.

Thank you.

Julie Allyn Johnson