AS I SEE IT
By Neal A. Shipman
The year was 1822 and Clement C. Moore had just written, “An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas,” as a special Christmas treat for his six children. Moore’s poem was first read aloud to his children and a gathering of relatives who were seated around the family’s fireplace. So delighted were the children by the poem that one of the young relatives took it and submitted it anonymously to the Sentinel, a Troy, New York newspaper.
The much beloved poem was first published by that newspaper on Dec. 23, 1823.
Because of his ‘mere trifle,’ as he called it so many years ago, Clement Clarke Moore almost single-handedly defined our now timeless image of Santa Claus.
So this Christmas season, when there is magic in the air, I’d like to share with you one of the most favorite Christmas poems that has ever been written.
“The Night Before Christmas”
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 sugarplums 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 my bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore up the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to the 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 Donder 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 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 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 twist of his head
Soon gave me to know that 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 a 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!”