The (real) night before Christmas

Holiday throwbacks are everywhere this season, from the lighted ceramic Christmas tree grandma made to Uncle Bob’s recipe for spiked egg nog which nobody really likes but will still drink to make it through the night. This week, I wanted to bring back a Christmas classic. I gathered together a plate of cookies and a glass of milk for Santa Claus (and a carrot for Rudolf) and set them by the fireplace. Then I put pen to paper and reimagined the holiday classic poem, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas…only this time, to keep things real, I added some truths of my own… 

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

(Except the cats. They were shredding the paper on wrapped gifts and knocking ornaments off the tree.)

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

(Hopefully there isn’t too much residual soot still streaming out of the fireplace since the oil company’s unfortunate “accident” last time they serviced my furnace.)

The children were nestled all snug in their beds; While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;

(I can only assume, since one lives in Wilmington and the other in Tokyo. God forbid they text their father and let him know how they are doing.)

And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap, Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap,

(Actually Mama was playing Candy Crush and I was scrolling Twitter.)

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.

(I hoped it wasn’t the desperate druggies rummaging through the neighbor’s shed again.)

Away to the window I flew like a flash, Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

(Which I broke again for the third time this year.)

When what to my wondering eyes did appear, But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer,

(At first I assumed they were decorations that blew off my neighbor’s lawn, because every little gust of wind deposits someone else’s trash in my yard.)

With a little old driver so lively and quick, I knew in a moment he must be St. Nick.

(Or the little old man who lives in the corner house on Pond Street who clearly shouldn’t still have a driver’s license.)

More rapid than eagles his reindeer 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, Donner and Blitzen!”

(Which coincidentally are the names of the wait staff at Hooters in Saugus.)

So up to the housetop the reindeer they flew With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

(Thankfully I procrastinated about getting a new roof. I’m going to be pretty ticked off if they loosened any shingles.)

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

(There go my skylights. I hope I’m insured for reindeer damage.)

As I drew in my head, and was turning around, Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

(He’s definitely going to have to replace the chimney cap. First, birds in my fireplace, now this guy.)

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot, And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;

(As was my living room rug which was recently steamed cleaned after the aforementioned furnace repair “accident”.)

A bundle of toys he had flung on his back, And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

(The playroom is already overflowing with my grandchildren’s toys. I can’t possibly fit any more toys in this house.)

His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples, how merry! His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!

(I couldn’t help but notice frostbite was beginning to set in.)

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow, And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow;

(Possibly from devouring thousands of powdered sugar cookies on his travels.)

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath;

(Luckily for him, it’s legal now.)

He had a broad face and a little round belly That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.

(I can relate.)

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf, And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;

(I was not fat shaming, I swear.)

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head, Soon let me know I had nothing to dread;

(I still kept my finger on the 9-1-1 button of my cell phone.)

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work, And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,

(He started to twerk, then thought better of it.)

Laying his finger aside of his nose, And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

(Before I could warn him about the ongoing soot problem.)

But I heard him exclaim, as he drove out of sight — “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

(I wondered why he didn’t say “Merry”. I mean, who says Happy Christmas?)

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