Have Yourself a DIY Christmas: Sufjan's Singalong
To Tell the Truth

On Juniper Street

On Juniper Street

Decoreindeer posed among the
brown and gray, with
angels
wisemen
snowmen too, and
twelve plastic candles powered
from an incandescent joy.
Babyjesus too
shining like some toy.  But my,
how they lit the crinkled
shadow-path of Juniper Street,
its crumbling blacktop, its holy
walks -- an other-town in my
hometown.

"Those colored people sure do
have fine lights," Mama said,
admiringly,
as she locked the door,
"and there's that Lizzie with
eighteen boys."
We took them toys
and then the ironing,
before turning back cross-town
from this other town.

Our home are
monochrome vanilla,
soft, hushed lights, trees just
peeking out, Christmas whispered
in the night.
No gaudy lights singing angels
santa-in-the-chimney sights, just
this subdued tribute,
this lackluster light.
We sip eggnog, play carols,
reminisce this night.  But

On Juniper Street
there must be joy tonight.

They put it on the street.
They shout it from the street.

This poem is based on fact.  As a young child I remember driving cross town, to the other side of the tracks in our largely segregated town, to deliver clothes to an African-American woman, Lizzie, who also kept what seemed to be as many as 15-20 foster children, mostly boys.  I loved seeing the lights.  They used a lot of multi-color lights and had all kinds of lit decorations in the yards of these modest homes.  Their decorations were much better than ours.  They lit my imagination.  They believed in Christmas.

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