‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. (First of all, I live in an apartment. And secondly, it doesn’t exactly enhance the Christmas spirit imagining mice in my place, even if they’re not “stirring.”)

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there. (Check the average St. Nick, then check the average chimney — rotund peg in a square hole?)

The children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads. (I hope I’m not out of line, but sounds like stoners’ kids to me)

And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap, had just settled down for a long winter’s nap. (Mamma in her kerfchief? Me in my cap?. No wonder they’re napping.)

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang from the 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. (At my place it’s vertical blinds, but I don’t mean to be too picky.)

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow gave the luster of mid-day to objects below. When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer, (Miniature? I’m Jewish so perhaps I haven’t kept up, but when did the sleigh and reindeer get downsized? Santa sure doesn’t look it.)

With a little old driver, so lively and quick, I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick. (Forgive me, but with that gut I hardly imagine he’s lively and quick.)

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! (Who named the reindeer? Perez Hilton?)

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. (Say what?)

So up to the house-top the coursers they flew, with the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas, too. (Let’s just hope the roofs are reinforced.)

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof the prancing and pawing of each little hoof. (If this was Wasilla, Ala., Sarah Palin could go outside and shoot them all. Isn’t that a lovely Christmas image?)

As I drew in my head, 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; (Yuck. Forget milk and cookies for Santa, get him a dust buster.)

A bundle of toys he had flung on his back, and he looked like a peddler just opening his pack. (A soot-covered peddler at that.) His eyes — how they twinkled! His dimples how merry! His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry! (I hate to say it, but Santa sounds like a drinker.)

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow, and the beard of his chin was as white as the snow. (Yes, if you overlook the ash.) The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, and the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath; (The question is what was he smoking?)

He had a broad face and a little round belly that shook when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly. (Sounds like someone could use some cardio.) He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf, and I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself. (With a chubby, ash-covered guy in my living room, I’m not sure I’d be laughing.)

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head, soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread. (Easy to say, I’m going to have to vacuum after he leaves.)

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. (Wouldn’t it be easier to just walk out the door?)

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, and away they all flew like the down of a thistle. (“Down of a thistle?” Now there’s a phrase you don’t hear too often these days.)

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight, “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.” (At least it ends upbeat. From me to you, happy holidays everybody!)

Jack can be reached at Jnsmdp@aol.com.

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