Holiday Haiku: A Poetry Prompt

holiday haiku

On Christmas Eve, I sat with my entire family in my grandfather’s sitting room. My uncle, the cool fraternity boy who was home on Christmas break from the state University, had rented what he dubbed “the greatest Christmas movie of all time.” My grandmother, who was particularly fond of Jimmy Stewart, assumed that he was speaking of It’s A Wonderful Life, and expressed her disappointment when the words A Christmas Story appeared in the opening credits. “They don’t make Christmas movies the way they used to,” she said. But my uncle chided, “Give it a chance, Mom.”

For the next 90 minutes the entire lot of us laughed aloud as we were introduced for the first time to Ralphie, the frozen flagpole double-dog dare, and the slurred cursing at the Bupass’ dogs. Even grandma, who lamented the absence of Jimmy Stewart at every turn, giggled when Ralphie donned the pink bunny onesie given to him by his Aunt Clara. And as I watched, I reckoned myself the southern, modern alter-ego of Ralphie and found myself rooting for him to get that prize—the coveted Red Ryder BB gun.

After the waiters sang the last verse of “Deck the Halls” in the Chinese restaurant, my uncle asked what we thought. Before I knew it, I blurted out, “Can I have an official Red Ryder carbine-action, two hundred shot Range Model air rifle?”

“No,” everyone in the room shouted in unison. “You’ll shoot your eye out!” they said, before erupting in laughter.

I would not receive that air rifle on that fateful Christmas morning, mostly on account of my timing. Santa’s sleigh had left the storehouse well before I made my request, and I suppose I shouldn’t have expected him to turn Dancer and Prancer back toward the North Pole just for me. (I’d have hated to be a bother to him, anyway.) Instead, I received a boatload of Legos and perhaps a few G.I. Joe action figures, which quelled any dissatisfaction in my lack of proper armament. Still, Ralphie and that Red Ryder stuck with me.

It’s been years since my first screening of A Christmas Story, but I watch it every year, now with my own children. I think it to be the most perfect of Christmas movies, evoking a sense of better days gone by, clothing the season with a proper sense of nostalgia. So when I read about Biographile’s Holiday Haiku Contest, the one in which submitters were asked to pen a short poem about their favorite Christmas memories, I immediately knew the subject matter of my poem.

“Ralphie’s Haiku”

A Christmas Story:
Orphan Annie decoder,
drink more Ovaltine.

Holiday Haiku Writing Prompt: The deadline for submissions to the Biographile contest has passed, but that doesn’t mean we can’t continue the exercise here. Tell me—do you find that this season fills you with a sense of warm nostalgia? What is your favorite holiday memory? Would you consider sharing it with us here in haiku form? And perhaps, like me, your favorite holiday memory is connected to a movie, a piece of literature, or music. Feel free to submit a haiku centered around your favorite piece of holiday art.

Now, let’s get to spreading a little Christmas cheer! Who’s first?

Tweetspeak’s December Holiday Haiku Poetry Prompt:

This month’s theme at Tweetspeak is “haiku.” So—you guessed it—we’re composing haiku poems. Perhaps you’ll scrawl a holiday haiku (there’s plenty of inspiration on our December playlist), but feel free to explore whatever ideas come to mind. How do you participate?

1. Study up a bit on haiku poetry, that ancient Japanese style wherein a poem is composed of seventeen syllables, usually divided in sections of five, seven, and five syllables, respectively. Listen to the Tweetspeak monthly playlist for a bit of inspiration.

2. Compose your own haiku, whether holiday-themed or otherwise.

3. Tweet your poems to us. Add a #TSHaiku hashtag so we can find it and maybe share it with the world.

4. If you aren’t a Twitter user, leave your found poem here in the comment box.

5. At the end of the month, we’ll choose a winning poem and ask the winner to record his or her poem to be featured in one of our upcoming Weekly Top 10 Poetic Picks.

And speaking of winners, last week’s holiday haiku submissions were poigniant, witty, and often nostalgic. Take this haiku from Joe Falcone referencing the famous Seinfeld episode, for instance:

Aluminum Pole
Hails airing of grievances
Happy Festivus!

And he continued to build upon in a second submission:

A Holiday rite
Let the Feats of Strength begin
To end it, pin me.

Rosanne Osborne, on the other hand, built a beautiful haiku trilogy.

Christmas Eve Trilogy

crushing cold winter
threatens to reach inside scarves
distancing Christmas

street bound old matron
feels the gingerbread crumble
chapped hands touching dreams

childish eyes follow
the drunken Santa’s stumble
almost recalling

Make sure you check out Joe and Roseanne’s haiku, and let them know what you think about their pieces.

Now let’s create some holiday haiku cheer! Who’s first?

Photo by Wit, Creative Commons via Flickr. Post by Seth Haines


Buy a year of Every Day Poems, just $2.99 — Read a poem a day, become a better poet. In December we’re exploring the theme Haiku.

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  1. says

    Here are a couple.

    This first one is dedicated to Kathleen Overby (in honor of her Aprons Project for 2013):

    Bread on the table
    Pockets of buttered surprise
    Apron ties cinched tight


    Cookie and cocoa
    Eyes twinkling at dawn’s light
    The morning’s unwrapped


    Don’t Shoot Me, Santa!
    I’m Home for the Holidays,
    Mistletoe and Wine.

    That last one uses holiday song titles.

  2. says

    What a fun prompt and bunch! Joe, so great that you are TweetSpeaking with us!! Here is my Holiday Haiku of one of my favorite Christmas Memories:

    A knock at the door
    And a man wearing antlers
    Changes everything

  3. Joe Falcone says

    End of semester
    Cluttered mind slowly empties
    As autumn leaves fall

    soon the work is done
    brief winter respite awaits
    brighter days to come


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