Poetry Friday: A holiday surprise from Nikki Grimes

Christmas may be weeks behind us and even Epiphany, aka “Little Christmas,” was five days ago…but I’m grateful to poet Nikki Grimes for keeping the holiday alive just a little longer.


You see, back in December she had mentioned on Facebook how she missed eating pepparkakor cookies, thin, spicy cookies similar to ginger snap cut-outs, when she had visited Scandinavia some years back. So, since pepparkakor are a tradition here at the house, and since I had just finished baking about 8 dozen of them, I offered to send her some!

She thanked me, and I was glad she enjoyed them.

That was that.

Until I received a small package in the mail yesterday…

Hmmm…what could this be??

From the return address I could see it was from Nikki, but couldn’t imagine what it was. I wasn’t expecting anything, certainly…but whatever it was, was beautifully packaged! So I untied the bow, and what did I discover inside?

A half-dozen of Nikki’s handmade cards, using her own beautiful photos, along with a special handmade card (upper right) thanking me. Homemade cookies = handmade cards! What a wonderful gift! And included with these cards, an original poem:

Longing for light,
we wade through the darkness,
hands outstretched.
One glimpse of the North Star,
and we lift our voices:
“O, Holy Night!”

– © 2019, Nikki Grimes

Now, what’s especially special about this (if I can put those two words together), is that “O, Holy Night” is my favorite Christmas song, hands down…Nikki had no idea, either, which made this even more surprising and touching. So thank you again, Nikki! I’m so grateful for your support, as well as for the words you share with us all through your novels, poems – and Christmas cards!

The Poetry Friday roundup is being hosted “down under” today with Sally Murphy, who reassures us that she & fellow children’s author Kathryn Apel are both safe, despite the horrors of the Australia wildfires. She’s sharing a sneak peek at her new upcoming book AND a seaside poem that is just perfect for those of us in the middle of a frigid northeast winter.


Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!


You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!

Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it, and then they’ll ship it! (Plus, you’ll be supporting your local bookseller – and won’t that make you feel good?)


Thank you to everyone for your support!


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30 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: A holiday surprise from Nikki Grimes

  1. margaretsmn

    I am reading and listening to Ordinary Hazards, sharing bits with my students. To think of this generous exchange between the two of you warms my heart.


  2. A gift exchange to clad the world in gladness: cookies = cards! Here’s a draft poem from a collection for grownups whose working title is “The Art of Losing.” Hope the form shows up…

    An Aversion to O Holy Night, 1971/2017

    Too much vibrato,
    too much orchestration, over and over
    too much gospel diva glory on stage: even in 2nd grade
    it was all too much for an Away in a Manger girl to bear, and
    the same year I ate so many Christmas-striped chocolate straws that
    I vomited. Too much sugar, fever, fall on your knees, oh hear the angel voices singing
    hard candy porcelain echoes over and over,
    too much, too much,
    too much.

    And to tell a truth I did not know
    until now, I believed that this
    holy night belonged to black folks,
    like Mr. and Mrs. Tibbs and
    Mr. Parker from our church
    and the Pullers across the street, like I
    the child knew that Amazing Grace
    and Lift Every Voice and Sing
    belonged to black folks.

    Funny then
    that at a posh downtown DC
    party in a gay and gorgeous
    brownstone hosted by two men
    (one Irish one South Carolinian) a gay couple
    on piano and voice (one white one black) returns
    this French and Unitarian carol to me with the simplicity of
    John Jacob Niles and some clues about why black folks in Richmond,
    Virginia in 1971 might lay claim to a Christmas song that promises “Chains shall He break
    for the slave is our brother.” We hear it too, at that posh party full of wealthy, frightened liberals, we hear it too, even those unchristian among us,
    in His name all oppression shall cease.
    Funny how the holy night unlikely
    finds me here, pure,
    cool and clean,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very nice, Heidi! I know it’s a personal recollection, but I can readily identify with your speaker trying to understand the holiday and the songs and the meanings…and I’m sure many others can identify, as well. Thanks for sharing this here!


  3. What a beautiful exchange of passions, Matt. Your cookies look amazing. I never heard of those cookies but certainly would love to try to make them. Nikki’s gift back is such a wonderful surprise and the cards looks stunning. Thanks for sharing Nikki’s poem and wonderful gifts.


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