Theoretically, these two poems called Cardboard Christmas are the same thing, but I think of this one being different than the first because I had to rewrite the whole thing for a class and now it has a different connotation in my mind. Similarily inspired to heartbreak, critiques, and the ever-failing glitter of Christmas time.

Cardboard Christmas

walk into most homes Christmas morning and you'll see
wrapping paper strewn
directions ripped into a million pieces
by frustrated hands holding those extra parts;

but some fathers can't provide
all that they'd like for their daughters
and those fathers wake up Christmas morning
not from staying up until 3 in the morning to put together
Barbie's Fun House and matching pink bike,
but from pacing the floor through the same hours that
other fathers are
fumbling with screws,
cursing resilient twist ties,
anticipating the happiness of their little girl in the morning.

no, he's sobbing into his hands in anticipation of
he won't experience the squeals of joy from his little girl
because his little girl's eyes will light up for a moment
before realization comes crashing down.

why daddy?
she sobs into his shoulder and,
between the tears they share, he has to explain
to the emotional wreck of a five-year-old girl
that yes, she was good all year
and no, Santa didn't forget her
and well, sometimes, when someone has to keep track of so many things,
some of the things get lost.

he has to stutter out something to make her feel better,
anything that might keep her hope alive
until next year.
because next year he's going to get a good job
and next year he'll be able to afford
she wants.

and that's just something he's going to have to believe
as he comforts his little girl Christmas morning,
because this can't go on for another year,

his soul as fragile as the ornaments he imagines
for next year;
tiny spheres of painted glass as glazed over
as his tear-filled eyes.
he can almost imagine hanging the heavy glass balls
on tree limbs too thin,
mentally reciting
when the bough breaks,
the cradle will fall
and down will come baby,
cradle and all.

it's not a baby that's going to fall out of this tree.
it's him
and he's falling fast,
listening to the sobs that he wishes he would never hear again,
listening to his little girl cry
why daddy?
as he clutches her tight.

he just
sometimes hope isn't enough
and he can't keep holding on much longer.

there's only so much his heart can bear before it