The Night Before Christmas (revisited)

‘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;
All of us wrapped up in nightgown and cap,
Had just settled our brains 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 moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering gaze should appear,
But two pairs of eyes, brimful of fear.
With a faint little smile they beckoned to me,
Waved up at the window, as they hid near a tree.
So gathering my wits I flew down the stairs,
And the family followed; wondering what could be there.
With caution we drew back the rusty old lock
And pushed back the door to see what we’d got.
And there on the lawn with faces so white
And bodies that trembled in the cold of the night,
Were two frightened souls clutching each other.
Like Husband and wife, or sister and brother.

They took a step forward, in silver moonlight
“Would you have a room to spare for the night?”
The man whispered the words, and his voice was so frail
That he must have been treading an awfully long trail.
“Our house is all full, and ready for morn
When Christmas will come with the first light of dawn.”
I was sorry to tell them and turn them away
I felt like the innkeeper on that first Christmas day.
As they turned to go my heartbeat went wild
For the young girl was clearly expecting a child.

“Wait!” we all cried, and shocked ourselves so.
“You can’t walk away – where will you go?”
“We’ll find somewhere soon,” the man said with a smile,
“We’ve been knocking on doors for a good long while.”
And we watched as they melted back into the night
And quite, quite soon had gone from our sight.

With thoughtful frowns we slipped back inside
And no sooner had done so – St Nicholas arrived.
Down the chimney the jolly man came with a bound,
Bringing with him an awfully big sound.
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.

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;
As he scrambled to leave his head reappeared
“Did you get my best present, I don’t see it round here?”
“Which present was that?” I asked with surprise,
And the glint of a sparkle sprang to his eyes.
“The new-born child,” he said with a smile
“The one who makes Christmas worth all the while.
The child once born in the dark and the night,
The child who one day will set the world right.”
But we all shook our heads and looked to the door.
“We sent them to where they’d come from before.”

For a moment his rosy cheeks turned white
“They’ll still be around out there in the night.”
Then he brightened again, gave his beard a shake,
and said,
“Why not ask them in – see what difference they make?”
And he called out to us as we ran from his sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.”

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