Thursday, 12/24/09, Public Square

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

(or A Visit from St. Nicholas)
by Clement Clarke Moore

‘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 our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the roof 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 shutter, and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
gave the 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 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, Donner 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 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.
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 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 of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,

“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

Clement Clarke Moore’s famous poem, which he named “A Visit From St. Nicholas,” was published for the first time on December 23, 1823 by a New York newspaper, the Sentinel. Since then, the poem has been reprinted, translated into innumerable languages and circulated throughout the world.


Filed under The Public Square

13 responses to “Thursday, 12/24/09, Public Square

  1. David B

    The Senate Health Care bill has passed, 60 to 39

    • Well, I want to be enthusiastic, I want to be happy about the problems our nation and her citizens face in getting affordable health care being solved.

      It’s a beginning.

      And, they proved they can actually pass a big bill in each chamber which wasn’t a given not long ago.

      On to reconciliation!

  2. Bad Biker

    Not saying that I have been bad this year, but a truck just pulled up and dumped a load of coal in my driveway. The driver looked suspiciously like Santa in Carharts.

    • As I told you all, I’ve been very good all year. 🙂 I know several of you questioned whether I had been very good at being very bad, and one of you questioned whether I was bragging or complaining.

      I love you all! I love your minds, your sense of humor, your way with words… A great bunch of people to hang out with, discuss with, celebrate or commiserate with.

      Seems like I’ve been given the gift of friendship and it’s a gift I cherish!

  3. NPR brings us a lesson in snowflakes.

    “During the holiday season we see images of lots of stuff not found in nature: flying reindeer, sugarplum fairies, and geometrically incorrect snowflakes. Now, Thomas Koop, a chemist, is trying to fix the snowflake problem.

    Koop thinks ice crystals are masterpieces of natural beauty. Unfortunately, he says, “This beauty is sometimes corrupted.”

    Especially at this time of year, when a blizzard of artistically rendered snowflake images sweeps through advertisements and store displays and greeting cards. Koop, who is a professor at Bielefeld University in Germany, says the problem is that many of these images show ice crystals with five sides, or eight sides. In other words, he says, they are scientific abominations.

    “Since I’m a chemist I know what the crystal structure of ice typically is and therefore I know that there’s no way of having pentagonal or octagonal ice crystals and therefore such snow crystals shouldn’t exist in nature and they don’t,” says Koop.

    Snowflakes can assemble ice crystals into all kinds of complex shapes. But the crystals themselves will usually have six sides.”

    lesson continues here.

  4. A new fun book about Washington with its bloomers down — ‘Hail to the Cheat’ by Ted Venetoulis, tells the story of a president who cheats on his wife, and she decides to throw him out. She is not going to stand by her man. She is going to stand by her dignity and by her principles.

    What do you do to show the president out, an evicted president from the White House? Where does he go? Who gets the Oval Office? There are a lot of twists and turns as this remarkable, extraordinary woman narrates this tale.

    The author says, “It’s the way a number of things operate behind the scene. We see it happening now in the Senate. It may be exaggerated. But there are some interesting twists and turns and adventure to it and a remarkable ending in terms of when someone decides to stand up in this political environment.”

  5. tosmarttobegop

    Well my youngest seem to be getting one of his wishes, snow and ice.
    After being informed by me I think he must have hit his head one of those times jumping out of a plane.
    Christmas can be a depressing time; thought of something that is not how you would want it.

    But it is also a time that would seem better suited to that of Thanksgiving, looking at all that is right in the world. Perhaps its see family that you do not see often.
    Even the chance to drop a few coins in the red bucket outside a store. Instead of thinking how much a shame it is that there is a need for those red buckets.
    You think that at least there was a gift that will be given to someone that will need and desire it.

    Not just another sweater to be hung in a closet or a pretty thing that sets on a shelf.
    But maybe a shelf for someone who does not have a self or a warm place to sleep.

    I often remember a story; the mother and daughter lived in nothing better then a chicken shack.
    So poor that there was one blanket that served a double purpose.
    By day it served as a front door and by night the mother and daughter shared it over the bed.

    Mother was sad; this was not a life she would have wanted for her daughter.
    She could not shake the thought of how poor they were and how miserable her daughter must feel.

    It was Christmas Eve, as they lay under that blanket in the dark and cold.
    Mother felt that need to apologies to her daughter for how poor and miserable her life was.
    There were not gifts and no big meal to eat.

    Her daughter making a statement shocked Mother.

    “Mommy I am so glad to be so bless as we are on Christmas Eve!”.

    Mother could not understand why her daughter would make such a statement.
    They lived in a shack; the wind blew through more cracks in the walls then mother could count.
    So she had to ask her daughter why she felt so blessed?
    “Why do you say we are so blessed?”.
    “Well Mommy there are some people that do not have a blanket for a door or to cover up with!”

    • Thank you tstb for putting everything that should mean Christmas into perspective.

      I forget too often to be thankful and need to be reminded.

      Your story reminded me of the prayer my old boss and mentor said was his only prayer, always adding he didn’t deserve as much as he had and sure wasn’t going to ask for any more.

      The brass plaque on his desk had just these letters which stood for each word of his oft-spoken prayer:

      L I D G T T — F T A T I M

      Lord, I do give Thee thanks, for the abundance that is mine.

  6. lillacluvr

    Christmas was my grandfather’s favorite time of the year. I remember his tradition of giving each grandchild a silver dollar. Most of my cousins would go out and spend theirs the next day. I saved mine.

    When my grandfather passed away unexpectedly, my grandmother sold his car – a two-tone green Rambler 4-door – to me. I used those silver dollars that he had given to me throughout my childhood years to pay for it. My grandmother also gave me his old keyring when she gave me the keys to my Rambler.

    I was 18 yrs old (alot of moons have passed since then – LOL), but I still remember the feeling of closeness that I experienced with my grandfather’s memories each and every time I drove his little green Rambler.

    At the price of silver currently, alot of people would say that I did the wrong thing by spending my silver dollars so foolishly on a car and that I should have kept them in a safe deposit box.

    But, to me, those silver dollars kept me closer to my grandfather for a few years longer and there is no price put on love that transcends even death.

    Christmas is about love – or that is what Christians preach when they are whining about being persecuted.

    So, why can’t that feeling of love and goodwill be kept alive during the other 364 days of the year?

    My grandfather was a very special man and I often think about him at Christmas time. For this man truly knew what Christmas and living was all about – giving to others.

    I have everything I need and some of what I want – and for that, I consider myself lucky.

    But the choice of passing it on and giving to others is entirely up to me – and giving feels better than getting. I just wished more people would see the world this way.

  7. lillacluvr

    To all of you here on the blog – Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays or whatever you choose to celebrate at this time.

    To each and every one here – I wish only the best in the coming New Year.