Counting Down the Days to the Holidays — In Poetry

This isn’t the post I’d planned for today, but my friend Jan shared an idea with me that I am enjoying so much that I pre-empted my own schedule to share it with you.

Many people — especially families — enjoy Advent calendars at this time of year, whether ones that have pictures or lines of the Christmas story under the daily flaps, or the ones I suspect kids like the best — the ones with a chocolate or candy under the flap. Christmas is not the only holiday at this time of year that lends itself to a countdown, though, and especially to the sort of countdown Jan suggested…

One can count down the days to Hanukkah, Solstice, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Diwali — really, any holiday your tradition, your inclination, or your imagination suggests, at any time of year.

Jan’s idea involves two specific books, but that’s not a requirement. Since I have the audiobooks of both Julie Andrews’ Collection of Poems, Songs and Lullabies and The Julie Andrews Treasury For All Seasons, both anthologies of poetry new, old, and in between (with a satisfying smattering of poems written by Julie and her daughter, Emma), Jan suggested that every day until Solstice I listen to one of the nature poems in either of those books. Then from Solstice to Christmas, I will listen to the Christmas poems from Treasury For All Seasons. It’s a lovely way to count down the days, listening to either Julie or Emma read a poem to me.

Families might choose to read the poems themselves, either from these books (which I highly recommend) or from other books of poetry. You might want to follow a theme, or simply dip into the book(s) at random, seeking out both familiar and unfamiliar poets and poems. I am following a fairly random approach, and enjoying the surprise each day. Yesterday, the poem I heard was Julie’s own “Wildflowers,” which is one of my favorites. Today happened to be another favorite poet, one of long, long standing, Gerard Manley Hopkins — his poem “Pied Beauty.” I wonder what tomorrow’s poem will be?

Do you have a tradition, either in your family or just you personally, for counting down the days at this time of year?

16 thoughts on “Counting Down the Days to the Holidays — In Poetry”

    1. Thanks, Catherine! I so appreciate having headphones — I watch a lot of movies on my laptop using headphones so that I can hear more clearly, and they work for my iPod touch and my phone as well. Hope you find some — audio books are great!

  1. Hi, Beth. I love the idea of counting down to Christmas (or other holidays) with poems. My girls are going to have a Read-a-Thon at school this month, and this sounds like something fun we can incorporate!

    1. Thanks, Erik! That calendar sounds extra cool! You’ve had to wait a long time before you could use it!!! You needed a countdown to your countdown!

  2. What a lovely idea, Beth (and Jan :)) I wish you were able to post and share with us the poems you read, but i guess that would be copyright infringement… so I’ll have to find my own poem source 🙂

    1. Thanks, Susanna! I was so grateful when Jan came up with the idea! And yes, that would be copyright infringement, I’m afraid. You should be able to find poetry books at your local library — maybe they even have Julie Andrews’ Collection of Poems, Songs, and Lullabies! (“Treasury” was just published in early October, so it may not have made it to library shelves yet.)

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