A visit from the ghost of X-mas past, present and future

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house 

not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

The koolaid was drunk by the incoming chair

of New Brunswick’s new government, so long may it fare.

The people were snuggled all smug in their beds

as St. Brian and company messed with their meds.

Still, I, on my pea and with my hands firmly cupped,

had the sneaking suspicion I was about to get stuffed.

Okay, I should probably end this travesty of a beloved Christmastime doggerel right about here. After all, the author of the original A Visit from St. Nicholas most certainly did not ask to be so routinely and savagely parodied before or after his death. Indeed, Clement Clarke Moore has been rolling in his grave every year at about this time on the calendar since 1863.

Still, the temptation is irresistible. There’s something about the facile cadence of the verse, the jaunty rhythm, the easy rhyme, that just makes a wonk want to wag his tail. Indeed, famous wits have loved to murder this poem since it first appeared.

Here’s American humourist James Thurber’s 1927 opening “stanzas” in The New Yorker magazine:

“It was the night before Christmas. The house was very quiet. No creatures were stirring in the house. There weren’t even any mice stirring. The stockings had been hung carefully by the chimney. The children hoped that Saint Nicholas would come and fill them. The children were in their beds. Their beds were in the room next to ours. Mamma and I were in our beds. Mamma wore a kerchief. I had my cap on. I could hear the children moving. We didn’t move. We wanted the children to think we were asleep.”

And here’s Dave Barry on the subject a couple of years ago in the Miami Herald:

“’Twas the night before Christmas. Or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or whatever religious holiday your particular family unit celebrates at this time of year via mass retail purchases. And all through the house not a creature was stirring, except Dad, who was stirring his third martini in a losing effort to remain in a holiday mood as he attempted to assemble a toy for his 9-year-old son, Bobby. 

“It was a highly complex toy, a toy that Dad did not even begin to grasp the purpose of, a toy that cost more than Dad’s first car, a toy that was advertised relentlessly on TV with a little statement in the corner of the TV screen that said ‘SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED’, which was like saying that the Titanic sustained ‘some water damage’, because this toy had more parts than the Space Shuttle. And speaking of space, Dad was now convinced that extraterrestrial life did indeed exist, because the assembly instructions were clearly written by beings from another galaxy. And these beings insisted on Phillips screwdrivers, and Dad could not find his Phillips screwdriver. In fact, he was wondering who ‘Phillips’ was.”

And here’s an anonymous entry to the sweepstakes of swiping good master Moore’s effort:

“It was the night before Christmas, when all thru the abode only one creature was stirring, and she was cleaning the commode. The children were finally sleeping, all snug in their beds, while visions of Nintendo 64 and Barbie, flipped through their heads. The dad was snoring in front of the TV, with a half-constructed bicycle on his knee. So only the mom heard the reindeer hooves clatter, which made her sigh, ‘Now what’s the matter?’

“With toilet bowl brush still clutched in her hand, she descended the stairs, and saw the old man. He was covered with ashes and soot, which fell with a shrug. ‘Oh great,’ muttered the mom, ‘Now I have to clean the rug.’

“‘Ho-ho-ho!’ cried Santa, ‘I’m glad you’re awake. Your gift was especially difficult to make.’ ‘Thanks, Santa, but all I want is some time alone.’ ‘Exactly!’ he chuckled, ‘I’ve made you a clone.’”

Ah, yes. . .

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house

not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

The Peromyscus leucopus had asked of his master,

“What should come first: hydraulic fracturing or certain disaster?”

The premier, well fed, spent nary a moment

to consider the question before answering in foment.

“The people have spoken and that’s good enough for me,

as for the rest, only time will see.”

And so, happy holidays to all and to all a relatively restful, worry-free, mindful, meditative, non-paranoid night.

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