Christmas Eve at the Epsom Circle McDonalds

A friend of mine from Wichita asked me for this poem he remembered that I wrote a few years ago. He wants to use it and change the place names to Kansas and maybe translate it into Spanish. It’s old enough it wasn’t in this computer and so I had to type it out and remember again the evening so well. I am so happy that other places might be used.

But I am happy as well to be posting this poem a couple days after Jim Delligatti died at 98 years old. He was the inventor of the “Big Mac” sandwich. And another flood of memories arrived — how much my parents liked McDonalds after they were retired because of all the children, how my own children would beg for this special treat, how all people came here in a sweet equality (criticized it, too, as it became an metaphor for America), but still came here.

Christmas Eve at the Epsom Circle McDonalds

The kids with the santa hats
are selling hamburgers
more cheerfully
because they feel the season
and are glad for early closing.
A boyfriend comes in
and hangs over the counter
pressing against
tattered garland
looped to the finger level
of children.

A family with three toddlers,
jazzy with excitement,
are traveling to Maine
in the drizzle
of the holy evening.
the littlest boy
in red and green plaid
Oshkosh runs in circles,
strangling French fries
in his hand.
Tired of the car and
already eager for
presents and bed,
his little sneakers tramp
like angel feet.

An older couple
in a corner talk quietly
about their daughter
who’s been dead
four Christmases now.
They could have gone
to their son-in-law’s house.
His kind new wife
invited them with her family,
but it didn’t seem right.
And this was the very
brightest place – it
looked like a star
when they drove down
the highway,
and they knew there would be
children here.

A divorced Dad with
Budweiser on a black T-shirt
jokes with his
six year old daughter
over milk shakes.
A clumsily wrapped present
perches on the
molded plastic seat.
He is trying to make
the very best treat he can
of their Christmas hour
before bringing her
back to her Mom’s house.
Brown eyes shine at him
and he thinks
she is excited for later –
for Santa and all –
but she’s looking at him
all over
memorizing the gift.

The preacher
is on her way to church
to remember Bethlehem
out loud
for the folks who come
to break bread and
light little candles
with paper circles on them
that keep the wax
from dripping on their hands
as they sing “silent night.”

Most of them
have heard the story
about the child before,canstock16219611
and so has she.
She has come here first,
just to sit for a while
and watch the
christmas eve communion.

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9 Responses to Christmas Eve at the Epsom Circle McDonalds

  1. Pingback: Poem: Christmas Eve at the Epsom Circle McDonald’s  | A More Peaceful Table

  2. Titia Bozuwa says:

    I remember reading it when you first wrote it. It still touches me. Especially the part about the older couple whose daughetr has been dead for four years…They’d made the right decision not to disturb her newly formed family…Christmas is time for hope, pain, love and new beginnings, isn’t it?

  3. Jessica McArdle says:

    A deeply moving poem, Maren, where a coming together happens because no one is turned away. Thank you.

  4. Maren says:

    Sometimes … sometimes a fast food joint is more welcoming than our churches.

  5. Gail Orlando says:

    That McD’s has so many memories for me as well! Mom used to treat us to burgers once a week when we would camp for a month in Northwood.
    The past few years, I take the grandchildren up to Loudon race track for the lights. On our way home, we always stop at that McD’s for our dinner.
    Thanks for sharing this poem! I will have to print and share it with my family. Gail

  6. Maren says:

    So many good memories!

  7. Great imagery! I can taste Christmas!

  8. Pingback: Stories and Carols | Jeff's Jottings

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