The Kortalenko's Christmas Gift Poem by Bob LazzarAtwood

The Kortalenko's Christmas Gift

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The Kortalenko's Christmas Gift

Viktor Kortalenko proudly stood outside his shop
The morning snow now freshly cleared away,
And leaning on his shovel he was lost in pleasant thoughts
About his new life in the U.S.A.

The journey from his homeland had been difficult and long,
Such hardships he had put his family through,
But they had dreamed of freedom and these dreams had kept them strong
And now at last they all were coming true.

His sewing shop was thriving now, he'd soon pay off the loan,
His daughters had good schools not far away,
And up above the shop they had a small but cozy home
That kept them safe and happy every day.

A customer appeared and Viktor greeted her by name
Then held the door and followed her inside,
He quickly filled her order and then counted out her change
And as she left he waved a kind goodbye.

Then looking up he saw a group of youngsters passing by
Their pants were very large and hanging low,
Their underwear was showing and it made poor Viktor sigh
To see them so exposed in all this snow.

It caused him to look back upon his own impoverished youth,
When he would often beg for food and clothes,
And sometimes he'd get pants that were too big to be of use
And these boy's pants reminded him of those.

His heart was filled with sadness at the sight of these young men
For he'd been poor and knew just how it felt,
So Viktor made a promise to himself right there and then;
For Christmas he would make these boys some belts!

He wanted to protect them from the waves of public shame,
The cruel remarks and disapproving frowns,
He couldn't change their lives but he might spare them from some pain
If he could keep their pants from falling down.

So later on that day he told his family of his vow
Imploring them to help him seize this chance,
To give back to their country and to help these young men out,
By lifting both their spirits and their pants.

His family all agreed and by the time the week had passed
They'd purchased all the items they would need,
Some burnished strips of leather, shiny buckles made of brass,
Some fabric paint and brightly colored beads.

That evening in the basement Viktor gathered them around,
And carefully he walked them through his plan,
He showed them what to do and where the tools could all be found
And then, with much excitement, they began.

They worked a little every evening once the shop had closed,
Which often left poor Viktor feeling tired,
But every boy he saw who had his underwear exposed
Was like another log upon his fire.

Meanwhile Viktor's daughters tried to make an accurate count
Of all the boys they knew with sagging pants,
When Viktor saw their figures he was stunned by the amount,
'This poverty, ' he thought, 'is so advanced! '

By Christmas Eve the belts were done and everyone rejoiced,
In Viktor's eyes were tears he could not hide,
He thanked his loving crew with much emotion in his voice
And told them that his heart was filled with pride.

Then later, close to midnight, when the city streets were cleared,
They carried all the belts to Viktor's van,
And Viktor donned a Santa suit complete with hat and beard,
Then with a wave his Christmas rounds began.

He drove that four-wheel sleigh of his a hundred miles or more
His heart so light he felt like he could dance,
And on his tippy toes he left a package at each door
Of every boy in town with droopy pants.

When Viktor got back home again his children were in bed,
His wife was sleeping soundly in her chair,
He woke her very gently with a kiss upon her head,
And hand-in-hand they softly went upstairs.

On Christmas Day the Kortalenkos gathered by their tree
To celebrate the magic of the day,
And Viktor said a prayer for all the blessing's they'd received
And for their new home in the U.S.A.

And then outside the window something captured Viktor's eye
And suddenly across the room he flew,
For there upon the sidewalk three young men were passing by
Their Kortalenko belts in perfect view.

The boy's new belts were pleasing but their pants remained unchanged
Hung low in an exaggerated sag,
And right above their belt lines, sending shocks to Viktor's brain,
Their underwear was flying like a flag.

The truth can be deceptive, even right before our eyes,
And that's where Viktor found it on this day,
And laughing at his foolishness he muttered in surprise
'These crazy boys, they like their pants this way! '

His wife was now beside him and she shared her husband's smile
His daughters too, were equally amused,
And holding one another they just stood there for awhile
And watched until the boys were out of view.

Then Viktor turned away and lightly flicked his daughter's ear
And playfully he roused the other's hair,
And with a twinkle in his eye he said 'Perhaps next year,
We'll make them all some nicer underwear.'

-The End-

I worked as a Juvenile Correction Officer for 15 years and was continually exposed to young men who wore their pants at half-mast. That is what eventually inspired this poem.
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