'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