Jingle Bells


Neil Harding McAlister


Holguin, Cuba, Dec. 2004



Back home the north wind howls and blizzards blow.

The temperature is seventeen below;

But here we’re safe from Old Man Winter’s reach.

While “Jingle Bells” floats on the tropic breeze,

Vacationers swill rum and take their ease

Relaxing on this sunny Cuban beach.


Incongruous, these songs of northern climes

That speak of other places, other times,

To visitors who come from far away.

No doubt they’re meant to make us feel at home –

Though old songs are the closest thing we’ve known

To riding “in a one horse open sleigh.”


The seaside’s not the place to act demure:

Large matrons with more cleavage than allure

Expose their bosoms, trying to catch some rays.

Their purpose here is not to trap a man.

They want to get at nice midwinter tan

To advertise their Christmas holidays.


But soon a rain squall makes us run indoors,

Wet flip-flops sliding on terrazzo floors.

The weather’s not so great, but do we care?

They’ve got the longest bar you’ve ever seen,

Resplendent now with plastic evergreen,

Fake mistletoe and tinsel everywhere.


The sun peeks out once more, to our delight.

We rush back to the beach while it shines bright,

For no one can predict how long it stays.

Some newlyweds go strolling hand in hand,

And little tykes build castles in the sand

Beneath their doting parents’ watchful gaze.


The singles lounge in deck chairs by the pool,

Where young men flex their muscles, looking cool

And hoping to attract the roving eyes

Of women who are scantily attired,

In hopes their hearts with romance are inspired

By humid nights and stormy tropic skies.


A week soon passes, and we have to go

To face a driveway filled with drifting snow.

Yes, all good things must end, that much is clear.

We say goodbye to our new hotel friends:

Improbable we’ll ever meet again.

So Feliz Año – have a good New Year!




© 2005 NHMcA