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He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work, and filled all the stockings. But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
‘Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night’
The acquittal of two policemen in the deaths of two Black men in arrest scuffles provoked waves of protest demonstrations across the country the first week of December. Justice, the demonstrators claimed, had not been served. Race relations suddenly became the topic of every news program on the air, with the President announcing measures such as body cameras to make the police more accountable for their actions.
There was such a backlash, in fact, that for a while the Christmas Season seemed to take a backseat in people’s minds and hearts.
Maybe we should go back to an earlier era when peace was all we wanted for Christmas and families celebrated together in the warmth of a cozy fire, telling stories to the children of the wondrous night when St. Nicholas would come and bring them their heart’s desire.
According to legend, a man named Clement Clarke Moore wrote a poem for his family on Christmas Eve 1822 to do justice to the story of St. Nicolas. It was called “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” or “The Night Before Christmas”. He was a modest man, and never intended to publish it but an enterprising family friend, Miss Harriet Butler, learned of the poem, copied it into her album, and submitted it to the Editor of the Troy (New York) Sentinel where it appeared in print on December 23, 1823. The delightful poem soon began to be reprinted in newspapers, almanacs and magazines, and a book entitled The New York Book of Poetry, in 1837.
Moore finally acknowledged authorship in 1844 in Poems, published at the behest of his children. Now it is the most-published, most-read, most-memorized and most-collected poem in all of Christmas literature in America.
So, to bring good old Christmas cheer into the many controversial news of these days, here is the immortal poem that children-at-heart will understand the world over.
‘TWAS 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 St. Nicolas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of sugar-plums 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 the lustre of mid-day 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 St. 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 Doner 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-top the coursers they flew, with the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof the prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around, down the chimney St. 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 peddler 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 of 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 bowlful 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 of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight, “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.”
>Santa on sleigh, and reindeers (featured image); full Santa image by www.thevectorart.com – CC-By_SA 3.0
>Clement C. Moore, engraved by J. W. Evans in Making of America
(http://digital.library.cornell.edu/c/cent/) – PD
Texts, prints, photos and other illustrative materials depicted in GUIDEPOST have been either contributed by the authors of each published work or, to the Magazine’s good-faith knowledge, are in the public domain or otherwise benefit from the allowances of Articles 9(2), 10, 10(bis), and applicable others of the Berne Convention for the Protection of literary and artistic works.