Whether you believe in God, Jesus, the Virgin Mary, Buddha, Allah or nothing at all, it is my sincerest wish that every reader of this blog experience the joy of this holiday season with its spirit of brotherhood, redemption, charity, giving and family that comes with the advent of Christmastide. No matter your proclivity, it is difficult to experience the soaring majesty of Handel’s Messiah without feeling a stir in your soul (or whatever you call your ectoplasmic life force).
I ask you to try to approach the holidays with a child-like wonder, forgetting for at least 24 hours the cynicism that is so rampant in the modern world…believe that the world can be better, that there really is magic in the world, that we ALL can be better. I don’t ask that you believe in God or Christ the way that I do, I just ask that you believe in Santa for one day. I realize that to some of you he is just another fat white guy in a beard promoting the consumerism mantra of no money down, $37 a month – but give it a chance. Forget modern Santa and see the Victorian Father Christmas of Clement Moore, the Father Christmas that existed before magic became the property of Hollywood, X-Box 360 and the PS3, the Father Christmas of a time when a simple orange was a gift to be celebrated, not something that you forgot to pick up at the grocery store in this modern age of plenty.
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 mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my 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 eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tinny 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, 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 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!”
– Clement Clarke Moore (1779 – 1863)
And from me and my family to you and yours, a Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night…