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The Night Before Christmas

'Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house

  • Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
  • The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
  • In hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there.
  • The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
  • While visions of sugarplums danced in their heads.
  • And Mamma in her kerchief and I in my cap,
  • Had just settled down for a long winter's nap.
  • When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
  • I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,

  • Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
  • The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
  • Gave a lustre of midday to objects below,
  • When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
  • But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer;
  • With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
  • I knew in a moment it must be Saint Nick.
  • More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
  • And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:
  • "Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen!
  • On, Comet! On, Cupid! On, Donder and Blitzen!
  • To the top of the porch, to the top of the wall!
  • Now, dash away, dash away, dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,

  • When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
  • So, up to the house-tops the coursers they flew,
  • With a sleigh full of toys, and Saint Nicholas too.
  • And then in a twinkle, I heard on the roof
  • the prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

As I drew in my head, and was turning around,

  • Down the chimney, Saint Nicholas came with a bound.
  • He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
  • And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
  • A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
  • And he looked like a peddlar just opening his pack.
  • His eyes, how they twinkled! His dimples how merry!
  • His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry.
  • His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
  • And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow.
  • The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
  • And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath.
  • He had a broad face and a little round belly
  • That shook, when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.
  • He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
  • And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself.
  • A wink of his eye, and a twist of his head,
  • Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

  • And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
  • And laying his finger aside of his nose,
  • And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.
  • He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
  • And away they all flew, like the down on a thistle.
  • But I heard him exclaim, as he drove out of sight,
  • "Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night."

-- Clement C. Moore

 

'Twas the night before solstice and all through the co-op

  • Not a creature was messing the calm status quo up.
  • The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
  • Dreaming of lentils and warm whole-grain breads.
  • We'd welcomed the winter that day after school
  • By dancing and drumming, and burning the Yule,
  • A more meaningful gesture to honour the planet
  • Than buying more trinkets for Mum or Aunt Janet,
  • Or choosing a tree just to murder and stump it,
  • And dress it all up like a seasonal strumpet.

My lifemate and I, having turned down the heat,

  • Slipped under the covers for a well-deserved sleep,
  • When from out on the lawn there came such a roar
  • I fell from my futon and rolled to the floor.
  • I crawled to the window and pulled back the latch,
  • And muttered, "Aw, where is that Neighbourhood Watch?"

I saw there below through the murk of the night

  • A sleigh and eight rendeer of non-standard height.
  • At the reins of that sleigh sat a mean-hearted knave
  • Who treated each deer like his personal slave.
  • I'd seen him before in some ads for car loans,
  • Plus fast food and soft drinks and cellular phones.
  • He must have cashed in from his mercantile chores,
  • Since self-satisfaction just ooozed from his pores.

He called each by name, as if he were right

  • To treat them like humans, entrenching his might:
  • "Now Donder, now Blitzen," and other such aliases,
  • Showing his true Euro-centrical biases.
  • With a snap of his fingers, away they all flew,
  • Like lumberjacks served with a plate of tofu.

Up to the roof-top they carried the sleigh.

  • (The holes in the shingles are there to this day.)
  • Out bounded the man, who went straight to the flue.
  • I knew in an instant just what I should do.

After donning my slippers, downstairs did I dash

  • To see this trespasser emerge from the ash.
  • His clothes were all covered with soot, but of course,
  • From our wood-fueled alternative energy source.
  • Through the grime I distinguished the make of his duds -
  • He was dressed all in fur, fairly dripping with blood.
  • "We're a cruelty-free house!" I proclaimed with such heat
  • He was startled and tripped on the logs at his feet.

He stood back up dazed, with mirth in his eyes.

  • It was then that I noticed his unhealthy size.
  • But that wasn't all to make sane persons choke:
  • In his teeth sat a pipe that was belching out smoke!
  • I could scarcely believe what invaded our house;
  • This carcinogenic and over-weight louse
  • Was so red in the face from his energy spent,
  • I expected a heart attack right there and then.

Behind him he toted a red velvet bag

  • Full to exploding with sinister swag.
  • He asked,"Where's your tree?" with a face somewhat long.
  • I said, "Out in the yard, which is where it belongs."
  • "But where will I put all the presents I've bought?"
  • I looked at him squarely and said, "Take the lot
  • To some frivolous people who think that they need
  • To succumb to the sickness of commerce and greed,
  • Whose only joy comes from the act of consuming,
  • Thus sending the stock of the retailers booming."

He blinked and said, "Ho, ho, ho,! But you're kidding!"

  • I gave him a stare that was stern and forbidding.
  • "Surely children need something with which to have fun?
  • It's like childhood's over before it's begun."

He looked in my eyes for some sign of assent,

  • But I strengthened my will and refused to relent.
  • "They have plenty of fun," I cut to the gist,
  • "And your mindless distractions have never been missed.
  • They take CPR so that they can save lives,
  • And go door-to-door for the used-clothing drives.
  • They re-cycle, renew, reuse - and reveal
  • For saving the planet a laudable zeal.
  • When they padlock themselves to a fence to protest
  • Against nuclear power, we think they're the best."

He said, "But they're children - lo, when do they play?"

  • I countered, "Is that why you've driven your sleigh,
  • To bring joy to the hearts of each child and tot?
  • All right, open your bag; let's see what you've got."

He sheepishly did as I'd asked and behold!

  • A Malibu Barbie in a skirt made of gold.
  • "You think that my girls will like playing with this,
  • An icon of sexist, consumerist kitsch?
  • With its unnatural figure and airheaded grin,
  • This trollop makes every girl yearn to be thin,
  • And take up fad diets and binging and purging
  • Instead of respecting her own body's urging
  • To welcome the shape that her body has found
  • And rejoice to be lanky, short, skinny or round."

Deep in his satchel he searched for a toy,

  • Saying, "This is a hit with most little boys."
  • And what did he put in my trembling hand
  • But a gun from the BrainBlasters Power Command!
  • "It's a 'hit,' to be sure," I sneered in his face,
  • "And a plague to infect the whole human race!
  • How about grenades or some working bazookas
  • To turn all of our kids into half-wit palookas?"

I seized on his bag just to see for myself

  • The filth being spread by this odious elf.
  • An Easy-Bake Oven - ah, goddess, what perfidy!
  • To hoodwink young girls into household captivity!

Plus an archery play set with shafts that fly out,

  • The very thing needed, to put your eye out.
  • And toy metal tractors, steam shovels, and cranes
  • For tearing down woodlands and scarring the plains,
  • Plus "games" like Monopoly, Pay Day, Tycoon,
  • As if lessons in greed can't start up too soon.
  • And even more weapons from BrainBlasters Co.,
  • Like cannons and nunchucks and ray guns that glow.

That's all I could find in his red velvet sack -

  • Perverseness and mayhem to set us all back.
  • (But I did find one book that caused me to ponder -
  • Some fine bedtime tales by a fellow named Garner.)
  • "We need none of this," I announced in a huff,
  • "No 'business-as-usual' holiday stuff.
  • We sow in our offspring more virtue than this.
  • Your 'toys' offer some things they never will miss."

The big man's expression was a trifle bereaved

  • As he shouldered his pack and got ready to leave.
  • "I pity the kids who grow up around here,
  • Who're never permitted to be of good cheer.
  • Who aren't allowed leisure for leisure's own sake,
  • But must fret every minute - it makes my heart break!"

"Enough histrionics! Don't pity our kids

  • If they don't do as Macy's or Toys 'R' Us bids.
  • They live by their principles first and foremost
  • And know what's important," to him did I boast.

"Pray, could I meet them?" "Oh no, they're not here.

  • They're up on the roof, liberating your deer!"
  • Then Santa sputtered and pointed his finger
  • But, mad as he was, he had no time to linger.
  • He flew up on the chimney like smoke from a fire,
  • And up on the roof I heard voices get higher.

I ran outside the co-op to see him react

  • To my children's responsible, kind-hearted act.
  • He chased them away, and disheartened, dismayed,
  • He re-hitched his reindeer (who'd docilely stayed).
  • I watched with delight as he scooted of then.
  • He'd be too embarrassed to come back again.

But with parting disdain, do you know what he said,

  • When this overweight huckster took off in his sled?
  • This reindeer enslaver, this exploiter of elves?
  • "Happy Christmas to all, but get over yourselves!"

-- James Finn Garne

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