By Stephanie O’Keeffe
‘Twas the week before Christmas, and all through our town
Kids lug home their laundry, the semester winds down.
Decorations are up, the Merry Maple is sparkling,
Shoppers enjoy some weekend free parking.
It’s been another year defined by the virus,
Though we’re vaxed and we’re boosted, it’s still not behind us.
Some sense of “normal” is slowly returning
Businesses are open; there’s in-person learning.
But much remains closed, hybrid or Zooming,
And Omicron has a big winter surge looming.
Still, we’ve found ways of adapting and getting stuff done,
So let’s pause to reflect on Amherst in 2021.
Perhaps the event that was most consequential
Was November’s election, though not Presidential.
Dueling news sites, dueling PACs! An endorsement rejected!
Even a recount to determine who got elected.
And the referendum petition, signature challenge and lawsuit?
Kind of seemed like a GOP swing state dispute.
But it was our library project, which had a huge Yes vote win.
And when all ballots were tallied, six new Town Councilors got in.
Time and COVID have changed things, of that, there’s no doubt
Some favorite restaurants have closed and moved out.
No more Judie’s popovers, or Keno at Rafter’s
No more Lone Wolf, The Pub, or Henion’s hereafter.
But we still have plenty of great spots for all kinds of dining,
Many mainstays remain, thriving and shining.
They’re joined by fancy Savannas and Garcia’s mariachi
And great tacos on Kellogg where there used to be coffee.
A Jamaican kitchen is coming, and a new oyster bar.
There’s a sign touting “PROTOCOL” – whatever they are.
It’s not just politics and food – so much has transpired.
Let’s note some more of the odd and admired.
There were concerts on the common – now with craft beer!
Nice Writer’s Walk signs make our culture more clear.
The Musante Health Center got a ramp for access.
A new public safety plan launches with CRESS.
An old house moved to Baker Street one July night.
Lucio Perez left First Church sanctuary, ending his long plight.
That block of back-in angled parking is crazy and evil.
And a proposed new garage site has caused some upheaval.
The Civil War tablets are finally on view!
The Kendrick Park playground is awesome and new.
Lots of cool things are happening at Mill District’s North Square.
There’s dispute over what’s greener – trees or solar hardware?
A sexy undies shop opened a downtown location.
Juneteenth was marked with a big celebration.
Those weird “Poem Windows” were replaced with something else weird.
UMass football is woeful; their new (old) coach is revered.
Emily Dickinson’s museum will get her TV show’s dresses.
The Chamber and BID Directors have done much that impresses.
The Drake will return as a place for performance.
While bandshell design plans have met with a little discordance.
Our famed local diver went to the Olympics again.
And has Ms. Brewer’s epic town service really come to an end?
Can’t add anymore, this is not comprehensive.
It’s just a little rhyme trying to capture the sense of
A community that’s passionate, active and engaged
And seeks positive outcomes with each battle waged.
So cheers to this past year, and the new one forthcoming!
With gratitude for all who keep this special place humming.
Originally posted on Facebook and reprinted here with permission.
The Amherst Current will return in January.
2 thoughts on “‘Twas the week before Christmas”
Thanks to Stephanie and to the Current for publishing this wonderful poem. It was most enjoyable and put things into perspective. I miss Stephanie in town politics. She was very unusual as she was intelligent, thoughtful, quick witted, and possessed a great deal of common sense. I remember meeting her and Alisa when I was on the Historical Commission years ago prior to town meeting one fall. I forget what the issue was but they both cut the chase and resolved the problem on the spot. A sort of dynamic duo and I was impressed. During the charter commission meetings my hope was that the commission would propose a mayor and town council form of government and that Stephanie would be elected as our first mayor. I guess that it was a bridge too far.
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