Sitting Near My Christmas Tree

Reflections on a Christmas Eve

While sitting near my Christmas tree
the lights that twinkle speak to me
recalling poignant memories
of happy times and sad

I visualize my mom and dad
and packages all wrapped in plaid
and buttered lefsa Nana had
to serve on Christmas Day.

I think about our relatives
and thoughtful gifts that they would give
and Grandpa’s prayer that we would live
to serve the newborn King.

I still recall our stereo
and records that we kids would know
by Mel Torme and Nat King Cole
(and the Chipmunks, too).

I can’t help picturing the past.
Somehow I thought those days would last.
Could I have known time moves so fast
as kids find their own way?

I pine for how it used to be
while sitting near this twinkling tree
and cherishing such memories
that time cannot erase.

The delightful image of this nostalgic Christmas scene was painted by my brother Marc Asimakoupoulos.

Tending the Family Tree

A grandparent’s charge

A tender shoot sprouts from a tree
that’s rooted in a trunk called me.
That little branch that bears my name
will grow into a limb.

And how it grows depends on much.
Their parents’ guidance, friends and such.
But, Lord, I know Your grand design
includes grandparents, too.

How straight and strong that branch will grow
will be determined (I well know)
by words of blessing, loving touch
and what grandkids observe.

Lord, may my children’s children see
Your Holy Spirit’s work in me
through what I do and what I say
and how I make them feel.

Thanksgiving Memories

Remembering my mom and dad

I’m thankful for my mom and dad,
for all the special times we had
around a table playing games
and watching Lawrence Welk.

I’m grateful for those times of prayer
and godly wisdom they would share
to guide me on the path of life
as I pursued my dreams.

Their discipline was tough to take
when I would pound a willful stake.
But I, in time, could clearly see
they had my good in mind.

I’m in their debt for what they did
when I was quite a clumsy kid.
They recognized where I excelled
and heralded my worth.

I’m guessing you had folks like me
who took the time to help you see
how much they loved you (warts and all)
because of who you are.

So on this day for gratitude,
embrace a melancholy mood
and thank God for the folks you had
imperfect as they were.

And even though they may be gone,
the shoulders you are standing on
will always be a cause for thanks.
God bless their memory!

Cubs Win! Cubs Win! Cubs Win!

Spiritual lessons from my team’s World Series victory

‘Twas a World Series win for the ages.
Down three games to one, they came back.
Game seven then went extra innings.
Both players and fans were a wreck.

A weather delay added tension.
The rain was a portent it seemed.
The Cubs’ drought from ’08 had ended.
‘Twas the storybook ending we dreamed.

Just wait ’til next year we’ve been sayin’.
And I’m thinking it’s no time to stop.
Our Lovable Losers are winners
and they plan to remain at the top.

A repeat as champions suits us.
Our young team has talent galore.
With Rizzo and Russell and Bryant,
there’s bound to be much more in store.

And likewise in life we keep hoping
that what God has promised is true.
The Cubs are a lesson in patience.
Don’t give up! Don’t despair. God comes through!

So keep trusting and keep on believing.
The droughts that we face fuel our faith.
Perseverance in time is rewarded.
Like the Cubs, we’ll be blest if we wait!

* This poem is dedicated to my dad who died eight years ago today (November 4, 2008). He played catch with me when I was a kid. He faithfully came to my little league games. He took me to my first major league baseball game. A week before he died I lay down next to my dad on his bed as we watched the World Series together on the TV in my folks’ bedroom. (Curiously, Joe Maddon’s team Tampa Bay Rays lost in five games that year.) How I wish I could share in the joy of the Cubs win with him this year (now that Joe Maddon is Chicago’s manager). But like the poem suggests, I will just have to wait for that ultimate family reunion to come. I miss you, Dad.

A Fathers Day Toast

Celebrating the difference dads make in their kids’ lives

I raise my glass and make a toast
to all you dads whose children boast
about your wisdom and your wit
that shaped their lives for good.

Although not-perfect, you dads made
a difference in your kids who played
on vacant lots and backyard swings
or sitting on the floor.

You listened to their hurting hearts
when what they clung to broke apart.
You rubbed their backs as if to say,
“I hope you know I care!”

You doubted you had been enough
when they rebelled when life was tough.
But God gave you the means to give
your kids into His hands.

You gave them space to spread their wings.
And when they felt how failure stings,
you reassured them you were there
to help them fly again.

You asked forgiveness when you failed
and proved that love is what prevailed
when all was said and all was done
and all was not enough.

You helped your children picture God
as one whose shoulders are quite broad
who loves just like a father does.
Forgiving. Trusting. True.