We set our scene: a tired neighborhood
In Illinois. A cold December day.
An older building, made of brick and wood.
The bricks are dirty, and the sky is gray.
Two units in Chicago, near the Loop:
Below, a diner with an oaken door—
The owner calls her place “A Bowl of Soup”—
A big apartment on the second floor.
Adele despaired; her restaurant was unwell.
The Covid rules kept customers away.
Her menu, mostly soup, just wouldn’t sell;
Her bills were mounting, every passing day.
Her pantry shelves were almost empty now;
Her Christmas prospects now appeared quite bleak.
“What will I cook?” she sighed, with knitted brow.
“I have potatoes left, but not one leek.”
“For leek potato soup, I must have leeks,
And yet my empty pantry gives me pause.
I haven’t had a customer for weeks,
So I shall write a note to Santa Claus.”
She wrote, “Dear Santa, send me something soon.
My inventory is, you see, quite weak,
So it would be a much-appreciated boon
If you could send a fat and juicy leek.”
When Santa read the letter, he complied:
He took a leek, and wrapped it very well,
With crimson paper, ribbon neatly tied;
A label on the gift said, “To Adele.”
* * * * *
Now, Santa’s transport system has been changed.
The local airport takes care of his sleigh.
He leased a hangar—it was all arranged—
Where all the reindeer shared a giant bay.
Our Santa Claus was happy—that’s the truth.
He passed the pilots talking to their crews;
As he approached the X-ray scanning booth,
A kindly elf said, “Please take off your shoes.”
Before he reached the hangar, one more check:
A woman in a lab coat with a vest,
An unused stethoscope around her neck,
Said, “Show us proof you passed your Covid test!”
All paperwork complete, old Claus was through.
He reached the hangar where his reindeer lay.
“Wake up!” he cried. “I need my flying crew!
Let’s all head south! Tomorrow’s Christmas Day!”
Now guided by his compass and a star,
With reindeer magic giving him his lift,
Our faithful Santa traveled long and far;
At three a.m. he left Adele a gift.
* * * * *
Above Adele’s café, there was a flat,
Which Bob the builder hoped to renovate.
The noisy builder lived there with his cat;
His work began at dawn and ended late.
Now Bob had several friends—an hvac guy,
A surly blower-door contractor, too;
A plumber who liked steak and kidney pie—
In all, four workers on his rehab crew.
The guys were working on their Christmas goals:
The hvac guy was running ducts that day;
The sealing specialist was filling holes;
The plumber’s goal: a kitchen valve with spray.
The diner was now empty. Zero guests.
But sweet Adele was pleased to see her gift.
Upstairs, the guys were running final tests—
Some tests which failed to give their moods a lift.
“A leak!” The duct man shed a bitter tear;
“A leak!” The sealing worker was upset;
“A leak!” Our plumber’s biggest fear;
“A leek!” Adele rejoiced; her need was met.
If you are faced with hidden unsealed cracks,
Be careful of the words you choose to say.
And even if your project’s off its tracks,
Like sweet Adele, give thanks on Christmas Day.
— Martin Holladay is a retired editor who lives in Vermont.