Every Christmas I go back to my grandfather’s house,

Where the smell of biscuits drenches the room,

And Paula Deen cookbooks are visible to the overlooking eye.

It’s a Christmas tradition for my family

To gather around the fire—

In spite of the fire—

For me to dress as Mary,

Wrapped in white cloth and covered with a blue shawl,

To retell the story we all know

And all believe in


Do I still resemble Mary? Or is this just tradition?

I wonder now if He intended every verse to be a virtue.

Do you actually love thy neighbor

If you don’t believe that they should love each other?

Does that mean I’m not a follower

If I don’t follow blindly?

I remember sitting at awkward middle school lunches,

Surrounded by the clamor of ignorance and egocentrism,

And all I could hear was the clink clank of my fork hitting my bowl.

My best friend at the time

Ripped the cross off my neck

Because she said I should be more like her

And less like me.

I always wished I would become more like my friends

Or my family, for that matter.

Spend too much time with one,

And suddenly, the seesaw tips—

Detaches from the fulcrum.

I head to my grandfather’s pool,

And I tip my head back,

Keeping it underwater for

Ten, fifteen, twenty seconds.

Plunge, paddle, bathe, crawl.

I wonder:

If I don’t dive into either pool,

Do I even know how to swim?

Lauren Fountain has lived in numerous places around the world: namely, Atlanta, Houston, Singapore, and Pennsylvania. Often, her writing is a product of the conflicting and complementing ideals, values, and cultures of the experiences she has had. She is a student at Lehigh University, studying industrial engineering and finance. Her writing has been published in the anthology Up to No Good: A Chorus of Villainous Voices, and she is the co-founder and co-editor of Intangible Magazine.