Tag Archives: Clement Clarke Moore

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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Enough already with Night Before Christmas!


‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse

Though Pete van Loan was seen making the scene

The smile on his face, supremely serene

“This year I bring you wishes and tidings so dear”

Said the government House Leader, reeking of cheer

“Parliament works wondrously well” he croaked

“There’s no need to fix it, if it ain’t broked”

“Broked”? Hmmm.

Okay, dear reader, that’s all you get. I am officially hanging up my weathered beret and shoving the quill I reserve for penning pretentious verse in the drawer where I keep other mementos of the writing life. And good riddance.

Poor, old, dead Clement Clarke Moore – the guy who composed the original “‘Twas the Night before Christmas” back in 1823 – must be rolling in his stony grave, what with all the wretched adaptations of his poem (shall we call it iconic?) he has had to endure, lo these many decades since he shuffled off this mortal coil.

What is it about this rhyming trifle that sends politicians into paroxysms of parody at this jolly time of the year?

Witness New Brunswick Tory MLA Kirk MacDonald’s effort to skewer his federal colleagues a la Moore:

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house

Not a creature was, not even a mouse

Dominic hid by the chimney with glee

In hopes he could turn more Grits NDP

Now witness New Brunswick Liberal Deputy Leader Victor Boudreau, not to be outdone, deliver a slam in doggerel to his provincial rivals:

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and the House was still sitting

The premier was struggling, to stick to his knitting

His caucus was fighting, the ship it was sinking

The mood was so bad, even Betts might start drinking.

Ah yes, what true poet laureates New Brunswick has in its elected officials. Perhaps we can sell their words on the open market to help pay down the $500-million deficit and $11-billion long-term debt they’ve managed to accumulate for us over the past five years, or so.

After all, Americans love their various adaptations of Mr. Moore’s abiding claim to fame. Mostly, at any rate.

A correspondent on the social networking site, Tumblr entreats, “Stop Using ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”, suggesting that “Maybe the Advertising World Has Used This Poem Enough”. He or she then proceeds to prove his or her point by assembling a virtual cornucopia of advertising campaigns based on the ditty.

There’s WestJet and Build-a-Bear. There’s Target and ESPN and Pier One. There’s Best Buy, Old Navy and Golden Circle Ford. Come Toys R Us, come MYPackage, and Keyless Lock. Come Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen – as long as you have the goods, of course, we have the money.

Naturally, no pious objection to any of this moves the immoveable object that is retail capitalism at Christmastime.

Witness the Marriott Hotel chain’s Holiday specials, presented faithfully under the rubric “‘Twas The Night Before Christmas is all winter long, available November 15, 2013 to January 5, 2014.”

Indeed, dear reader, “enjoy the following winter salon treatments that all include our sweet coconut Sugar Scrub and other invigorating winter scents like vanilla and ginger coconut. . .Gingerbread manicure, 25 minutes, $55. . .Treat your hands to the ultimate in hydration. . .Warm up those tootsies with this seasonal pedicure featuring a vanilla spice soak, coconut sugar scrub and coconut body butter with ginger essential oil. . .Come in from the cold this winter and enjoy a hand conditioning treatment. Nails are filed and shine buffed, coconut milk is applied to hands and forearms,  followed by a coconut ginger sugar scrub, nourishing coconut ginger body butter, and completed with a hot paraffin treatment. . .Feet retreat, 30 minutes, $65.”

Or, perhaps, merely drop in on yuksrus.com to view the ultimate post-modern insult (funny, though it is):

‘Twas the night before Christmas and poor Clement Moore

Had his poem being copied by many a bore

His “Night Before Christmas” is perfect in rhyme

His rhythm and cadence are wonderfully fine.


But then come the wise guys, with Internet cool

Who use Clement’s rhyme as sort of a tool

They pick up the style from this poem of “that night”

And they hitch up their sled to whatever’s their gripe.


Thanks for that, L. Daniel Quinn. You kind of make my point.

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