23 Dec

Merry Christmas from The O’Leary

In the spirit of this season, celebrating the sacredness of family, we offer a poem in honor of parents throughout the world:   parents of every race, parents of every creed and those without, parents of every country, and, most especially, those parents who are now struggling against all odds to care for and protect their children.


I can see him now, sitting in the cellar,

In front of the flame of the coal furnace.

He would take the strips of stainless steel

And hold them over the flame until they were heated through.


These strips of steel he brought home from the bomber plant,

No doubt, the leavings of some machine die work,

Would become in his hands shiny interweavings of adornment;     

Some so delicate we feared they would break,


Others, thick and heavy and beautiful in their boldness.

I would watch him, excited at the thought

That I would wear such lovely bangles;

That I would wear bracelets my Father made for me.


He made so many, all perfect in their twists and turns.

For years, I would wear five or six on my arm.

Strangers would ask me where I had bought them.

With pride, I would say “My Father made them for me.”


Now, when I think of him, I wonder how it occurred to him

To make bracelets for his daughter from left-over

Steel strips he found as he labored far away at a bomber plant,

The only job he could find in the depressed days of ‘43.


Was he thinking of me one day as he performed 

His daily duties of rote and boredom?

Did he see the shiny strips of steel and think of me,

His only daughter who did not have any bracelets?


That he could envision something made from

The shiny strips of steel is not surprising.

My Father could make something out of nothing,

Could fix anything that was worn or broken.


But that he thought of me as he went through

His work-day so far away from all of us,

That is what moves me even now,

So many years after the deep mourning of his passing.



We didn’t have many material goods in those days.

We always had enough food, and simple clothes,

And we had something much more treasured than wealth.

We had a family of four sons, one daughter, a Mother who comforted,

                         And a Father who made bracelets.


I gave some of the bracelets to my best friends;

In later years, some to my daughters.

Eventually, some did break from years of wear.                                                      

I have only one now.  It never leaves my wrist.

                       It is my lovely, treasured  talisman from my Father.

Mary O’Leary McGlinn

I have often thought of the meaningfulness and the beauty of the iconic image of Christmas: the family in the manger.  I do not think it is by accident that the story of Christmas will forever be told  in the frame of the family.  Indeed, I think the family is the true sacred and spiritual touchstone of humanity.  The family, not just in the lovely but sometimes limited sense of a mother, a father, and a child, but the family as in the human family, humans joining together in  various forms  to help and love one another and to care for and protect our young.

MacLeish said it best, although he was hampered in his choice of words by the consciousness of the time of his writing.  You will excuse me if I paraphrase the ending of his beautiful essay that he wrote upon seeing the photo of our planet taken by Apollo 8.


“To see the earth as it truly is, small and blue and beautiful in that eternal silence where it floats, is to see ourselves as riders on the earth together, brothers and sisters on that bright loveliness in the eternal cold, brothers and sisters who know now they are truly one family.”

More of The O’Leary’s Writings>>

1 Comment
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Lovely as always, Mary.

© 2022 | Entries (RSS) and Comments (RSS)

Global Positioning System Gazettewordpress logo