‘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. Nicholas soon would be there; The children were nestled all snug in their beds, While visions of sugar plums danced in their heads
And Mama 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 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. The sound pierced the calm of the meandering snow And a voice in the distance was crying out “Woah!”
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer, It hurtled and veered and turned with a kick I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
Like inebriated seagulls his coursers they came, And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name: “Now! Dasher and Dancer, now! Prancer and Vixen, “Now! Comet, now! Cupid, now! Dunder and Blixem;
“Just ease yourselves up, I can’t hold it straight “When you pull this way and that at this hopeless old crate As old boxes that before the wild hurricane fly, When they meet with an obstacle, bounce 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 crash and the crunch of every last hoof.
They came to a halt with a slow grinding grate And I heard the big man set his boots on the slate. He slipped and he slid and went down rather nimbly but some brickwork came loose as he grabbed for the chimney
As I drew in my head, and was turning around, In the fireplace Saint Nicholas fell to the ground He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot, And the sitting room, it filled with a great cloud of soot
His face seemed quite doughy and he let out a huff then he stifled a burp and his cheeks gave a puff, His nose was bright red almost giving a glow, his soot-spattered beard looked like well trodden snow.
His expression seemed wilted like badly set jelly Legs flat on the hearth and between them his belly. He was chubby and plump, looking slightly dejected But also quite numb from the drinks he’d ingested.
He sat there a moment just rubbing his back And then clambered to his feet and dragged out his sack. And noticing my presence put his finger to his lips and gave a long “Ssshhhhhh” trying to steady his hips.
He tipped gifts on the floor with his sack like a chute and nudged them under the tree with the tip of his boot But he stretched just too far and with a stumbling twist falling back in the fire caught the mantelpiece with one fist
“Are you ok?” I offered as I came down the stair And he vigorously brushed all the soot from his hair “I’m fine” he slurred standing tall for validation “Now tell me, might you have some form of..er….liquid libation?”
I asked him if he didn’t think he’d had quite enough But he sighed and he groaned and let out a great puff. “The night is yet young, I’m only six million in. “I’ve only done Europe, to the East of Kings Lynn.
After that many drinks one might call it a night but on voicing this fancy he soon put me right “Young man!” he proclaimed looking suddenly bold “I am one thousand seven hundred and forty years old.
“I’ve been working this gig since the Romans were here “and I’m practically tee-total the rest of the year. “Don’t you worry about me, I’m just a little merry “Now should I help myself, or will you fetch me a sherry?
I thought of his sleigh with its cargo inside and other houses and chimneys with its driver pie-eyed “Practically drives itself.” he slurred, sensing my worry “Now if there’s a nip to be had I’m in rather a hurry
“I just need a little stiffner to help see me through “And of course a quick curry in west Kathmandu “And I’m set for the night, but I must beat sunrise And he leant on the side-table, his hand in the mince pies
It was then that he noticed the glass standing by so he raised it and quaffed it in the blink of an eye. And licking his fingers said “Whatever you think” “you shan’t stop me from flying just because I’ve been drink” -ing
He thrust the glass to the table to steady himself Stumbled on the rug, swept the books from the shelf And laying his finger aside of his nose And giving a nod…struck a curious pose
“Would you like any help?” I asked, slightly bemused He just nodded again looking vexed and confused “There’s a bit of a knack to getting this just right.” Then he nodded once more and tried to take flight
But he stood there stock-still, as he was just before, Looked a little embarrassed and then made for the door ‘This just isn’t cricket.” he mumbled, passing me by Then tugged the front door, with a frustrated cry
“You need to push, turn, then pull.” I gently advised Which he did, his irritation just barely disguised Then he stood on the lawn, to his team gave a yell But nothing did move, not a single sleigh bell
So, realising his reindeer were more stubborn then he Saint Nick swallowed his pride and took to the tree He climbed and he struggled to the bough at the top And he edged to the roof and then fell with a flop
With a slip and a slide he made for the sleigh, And he heaved himself in for to get underway: He fumbled the reins and he fussed to and fro And I wondered that he didn’t have places to go Eventually he settled and the reins gave a crack And the sleigh lurched forward and he rolled on his back But I heard him exclaim, as he pulled himself right— Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night