Things I Hope My Kids Will Read One Day

‘Twas the night before Christmas…

December 24, 2017

By Clement Clarke Moore

‘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 down 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 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;

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 hand 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 on 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,

I hope the holidays have you gathered with those you love, telling stories and giving hugs, in homes filled with warmth, love, and laughter.

Best wishes for a bright and happy new year!

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  • Reply Lynnie December 24, 2017 at 7:21 pm

    Merry Christmas Kalebra and all your family. Please give each and every one a big hug for me. I hope you have a wonderful year full of joy and happiness. Food on the table and… dang… I got lost again.🤠😘

  • Reply Clinton Ferrara December 24, 2017 at 8:47 pm

    All the same right back at you. ❄️

  • Reply Mike Nelson Pedde December 25, 2017 at 3:38 pm

    Definitely a classic. Here are a couple more for you:

    Twas the Night before Yuletide ☽○☾

    Twas the night before Yuletide and all through the glen,
    Not a creature was stirring, not a fox, not a hen.
    A mantle of snow shone brightly that night
    As it lay on the ground, reflecting moonlight.

    The faeries were nestled all snug in their trees,
    Unmindful of flurries and a chilly north breeze.
    The elves and the gnomes were down in their burrows,
    Sleeping like babes in their soft earthen furrows.

    When low! The earth moved with a thunderous quake,
    Causing chairs to fall over and dishes to break.
    The Little Folk scrambled to get on their feet
    Then raced to the river where they usually meet.

    “What happened?” they wondered, they questioned, they probed,
    As they shivered in night clothes, some bare-armed, some robed.
    “What caused the earth’s shudder? What caused her to shiver?”
    They all spoke at once as they stood by the river.

    Then what to their wondering eyes should appear
    But a shining gold light in the shape of a sphere.
    It blinked and it twinkled, it winked like an eye,
    Then it flew straight up and was lost in the sky.

    Before they could murmur, before they could bustle,
    There emerged from the crowd, with a swish and a rustle,
    A stately old crone with her hand on a cane,
    Resplendent in green with a flowing white mane.

    As she passed by them the old crone’s perfume,
    Smelling of meadows and flowers abloom,
    Made each of the fey folk think of the spring
    When the earth wakes from slumber and the birds start to sing.

    “My name is Gaia,” the old crone proclaimed
    in a voice that at once was both wild and tamed,
    “I’ve come to remind you, for you seem to forget,
    that Yule is the time of re-birth, and yet…”

    “I see no hearth fires, hear no music, no bells,
    The air isn’t filled with rich fragrant smells
    Of baking and roasting, and simmering stews,
    Of cider that’s mulled or other hot brews.”

    “There aren’t any children at play in the snow,
    Or houses lit up by candles’ glow.
    Have you forgotten, my children, the fun
    Of celebrating the rebirth of the sun?”

    She looked at the fey folk, her eyes going round,
    As they shuffled their feet and stared at the ground.
    Then she smiled the smile that brings light to the day,
    “Come, my children,” she said, “Let’s play.”

    They gathered the mistletoe, gathered the holly,
    Threw off the drab and drew on the jolly.
    They lit a big bonfire, and they danced and they sang.
    They brought out the bells and clapped when they rang.

    They strung lights on the trees, and bows, oh so merry,
    In colors of cranberry, bayberry, cherry.
    They built giant snowmen and adorned them with hats,
    Then surrounded them with snow birds, and snow cats and bats.

    Then just before dawn, at the end of their fest,
    Before they went homeward to seek out their rest,
    The fey folk they gathered ‘round their favorite oak tree
    And welcomed the sun ‘neath the tree’s finery.

    They were just reaching home when it suddenly came,
    The gold light returned like an arrow-shot flame.
    It lit on the tree top where they could see from afar
    The golden-like sphere turned into a star.

    The old crone just smiled at the beautiful sight,
    “Happy Yuletide, my children,” she whispered. “Good night.”


    The Author of this wonderful tale is unfortunately Unknown. It may possibly be C.C. Williford.
    A Child’s Christmas in Wales
    by Dylan Thomas

    One Christmas was so much like another, in those years around the sea-town corner now and out of all sound except the distant speaking of the voices I sometimes hear a moment before sleep, that I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six.

    All the Christmases roll down toward the two-tongued sea, like a cold and headlong moon bundling down the sky that was our street; and they stop at the rim of the ice-edged fish-freezing waves, and I plunge my hands in the snow and bring out whatever I can find. In goes my hand into that wool-white bell-tongued ball of holidays resting at the rim of the carol-singing sea, and out come Mrs. Prothero and the firemen.

    It was on the afternoon of the Christmas Eve, and I was in Mrs. Prothero’s garden, waiting for cats, with her son Jim. It was snowing. It was always snowing at Christmas. December, in my memory, is white as Lapland, though there were no reindeers. But there were cats. Patient, cold and callous, our hands wrapped in socks, we waited to snowball the cats. Sleek and long as jaguars and horrible-whiskered, spitting and snarling, they would slink and sidle over the white back-garden walls, and the lynx-eyed hunters, Jim and I, fur-capped and moccasined trappers from Hudson Bay, off Mumbles Road, would hurl our deadly snowballs at the green of their eyes. The wise cats never appeared.

    We were so still, Eskimo-footed arctic marksmen in the muffling silence of the eternal snows – eternal, ever since Wednesday – that we never heard Mrs. Prothero’s first cry from her igloo at the bottom of the garden. Or, if we heard it at all, it was, to us, like the far-off challenge of our enemy and prey, the neighbor’s polar cat. But soon the voice grew louder.
    “Fire!” cried Mrs. Prothero, and she beat the dinner-gong.

    And we ran down the garden, with the snowballs in our arms, toward the house; and smoke, indeed, was pouring out of the dining room, and the gong was bombilating, and Mrs. Prothero was announcing ruin like a town crier in Pompeii. This was better than all the cats in Wales standing on the wall in a row. We bounded into the house, laden with snowballs, and stopped at the open door of the smoke-filled room.

    Something was burning all right; perhaps it was Mr. Prothero, who always slept there after midday dinner with a newspaper over his face. But he was standing in the middle of the room, saying, “A fine Christmas!” and smacking at the smoke with a slipper.

    “Call the fire brigade,” cried Mrs. Prothero as she beat the gong.
    “There won’t be there,” said Mr. Prothero, “it’s Christmas.”
    There was no fire to be seen, only clouds of smoke and Mr. Prothero standing in the middle of them, waving his slipper as though he were conducting.
    “Do something,” he said. And we threw all our snowballs into the smoke – I think we missed Mr. Prothero – and ran out of the house to the telephone box.
    “Let’s call the police as well,” Jim said. “And the ambulance.” “And Ernie Jenkins, he likes fires.”

    But we only called the fire brigade, and soon the fire engine came and three tall men in helmets brought a hose into the house and Mr. Prothero got out just in time before they turned it on. Nobody could have had a noisier Christmas Eve. And when the firemen turned off the hose and were standing in the wet, smoky room, Jim’s Aunt, Miss. Prothero, came downstairs and peered in at them. Jim and I waited, very quietly, to hear what she would say to them. She said the right thing, always. She looked at the three tall firemen in their shining helmets, standing among the smoke and cinders and dissolving snowballs, and she said, “Would you like anything to read?”

    Years and years ago, when I was a boy, when there were wolves in Wales, and birds the color of red-flannel petticoats whisked past the harp-shaped hills, when we sang and wallowed all night and day in caves that smelt like Sunday afternoons in damp front farmhouse parlors, and we chased, with the jawbones of deacons, the English and the bears, before the motor car, before the wheel, before the duchess-faced horse, when we rode the daft and happy hills bareback, it snowed and it snowed. But here a small boy says: “It snowed last year, too. I made a snowman and my brother knocked it down and I knocked my brother down and then we had tea.”

    “But that was not the same snow,” I say. “Our snow was not only shaken from white wash buckets down the sky, it came shawling out of the ground and swam and drifted out of the arms and hands and bodies of the trees; snow grew overnight on the roofs of the houses like a pure and grandfather moss, minutely -ivied the walls and settled on the postman, opening the gate, like a dumb, numb thunder-storm of white, torn Christmas cards.”

    “Were there postmen then, too?”
    “With sprinkling eyes and wind-cherried noses, on spread, frozen feet they crunched up to the doors and mittened on them manfully. But all that the children could hear was a ringing of bells.”
    “You mean that the postman went rat-a-tat-tat and the doors rang?”
    “I mean that the bells the children could hear were inside them.”
    “I only hear thunder sometimes, never bells.”
    “There were church bells, too.”
    “Inside them?”
    “No, no, no, in the bat-black, snow-white belfries, tugged by bishops and storks. And they rang their tidings over the bandaged town, over the frozen foam of the powder and ice-cream hills, over the crackling sea. It seemed that all the churches boomed for joy under my window; and the weathercocks crew for Christmas, on our fence.”

    “Get back to the postmen”
    “They were just ordinary postmen, found of walking and dogs and Christmas and the snow. They knocked on the doors with blue knuckles….”
    “Ours has got a black knocker….”
    “And then they stood on the white Welcome mat in the little, drifted porches and huffed and puffed, making ghosts with their breath, and jogged from foot to foot like small boys wanting to go out.”
    “And then the presents?”
    “And then the Presents, after the Christmas box. And the cold postman, with a rose on his button-nose, tingled down the tea-tray-slithered run of the chilly glinting hill. He went in his ice-bound boots like a man on fishmonger’s slabs.
    “He wagged his bag like a frozen camel’s hump, dizzily turned the corner on one foot, and, by God, he was gone.”

    “Get back to the Presents.”
    “There were the Useful Presents: engulfing mufflers of the old coach days, and mittens made for giant sloths; zebra scarves of a substance like silky gum that could be tug-o’-warred down to the galoshes; blinding tam-o’-shanters like patchwork tea cozies and bunny-suited busbies and balaclavas for victims of head-shrinking tribes; from aunts who always wore wool next to the skin there were mustached and rasping vests that made you wonder why the aunts had any skin left at all; and once I had a little crocheted nose bag from an aunt now, alas, no longer whinnying with us. And pictureless books in which small boys, though warned with quotations not to, would skate on Farmer Giles’ pond and did and drowned; and books that told me everything about the wasp, except why.”

    “Go on the Useless Presents.”
    “Bags of moist and many-colored jelly babies and a folded flag and a false nose and a tram-conductor’s cap and a machine that punched tickets and rang a bell; never a catapult; once, by mistake that no one could explain, a little hatchet; and a celluloid duck that made, when you pressed it, a most un-ducklike sound, a mewing moo that an ambitious cat might make who wished to be a cow; and a painting book in which I could make the grass, the trees, the sea and the animals any colour I pleased, and still the dazzling sky-blue sheep are grazing in the red field under the rainbow-billed and pea-green birds. Hardboileds, toffee, fudge and allsorts, crunches, cracknels, humbugs, glaciers, marzipan, and butterwelsh for the Welsh. And troops of bright tin soldiers who, if they could not fight, could always run. And Snakes-and-Families and Happy Ladders. And Easy Hobbi-Games for Little Engineers, complete with instructions. Oh, easy for Leonardo! And a whistle to make the dogs bark to wake up the old man next door to make him beat on the wall with his stick to shake our picture off the wall. And a packet of cigarettes: you put one in your mouth and you stood at the corner of the street and you waited for hours, in vain, for an old lady to scold you for smoking a cigarette, and then with a smirk you ate it. And then it was breakfast under the balloons.”

    “Were there Uncles like in our house?”
    “There are always Uncles at Christmas. The same Uncles. And on Christmas morning, with dog-disturbing whistle and sugar fags, I would scour the swatched town for the news of the little world, and find always a dead bird by the Post Office or by the white deserted swings; perhaps a robin, all but one of his fires out. Men and women wading or scooping back from chapel, with taproom noses and wind-bussed cheeks, all albinos, huddles their stiff black jarring feathers against the irreligious snow. Mistletoe hung from the gas brackets in all the front parlors; there was sherry and walnuts and bottled beer and crackers by the dessertspoons; and cats in their fur-abouts watched the fires; and the high-heaped fire spat, all ready for the chestnuts and the mulling pokers. Some few large men sat in the front parlors, without their collars, Uncles almost certainly, trying their new cigars, holding them out judiciously at arms’ length, returning them to their mouths, coughing, then holding them out again as though waiting for the explosion; and some few small aunts, not wanted in the kitchen, nor anywhere else for that matter, sat on the very edge of their chairs, poised and brittle, afraid to break, like faded cups and saucers.”

    Not many those mornings trod the piling streets: an old man always, fawn-bowlered, yellow-gloved and, at this time of year, with spats of snow, would take his constitutional to the white bowling green and back, as he would take it wet or fire on Christmas Day or Doomsday; sometimes two hale young men, with big pipes blazing, no overcoats and wind blown scarves, would trudge, unspeaking, down to the forlorn sea, to work up an appetite, to blow away the fumes, who knows, to walk into the waves until nothing of them was left but the two furling smoke clouds of their inextinguishable briars. Then I would be slap-dashing home, the gravy smell of the dinners of others, the bird smell, the brandy, the pudding and mince, coiling up to my nostrils, when out of a snow-clogged side lane would come a boy the spit of myself, with a pink-tipped cigarette and the violet past of a black eye, cocky as a bullfinch, leering all to himself.

    I hated him on sight and sound, and would be about to put my dog whistle to my lips and blow him off the face of Christmas when suddenly he, with a violet wink, put his whistle to his lips and blew so stridently, so high, so exquisitely loud, that gobbling faces, their cheeks bulged with goose, would press against their tinseled windows, the whole length of the white echoing street. For dinner we had turkey and blazing pudding, and after dinner the Uncles sat in front of the fire, loosened all buttons, put their large moist hands over their watch chains, groaned a little and slept. Mothers, aunts and sisters scuttled to and fro, bearing tureens. Auntie Bessie, who had already been frightened, twice, by a clockwork mouse, whimpered at the sideboard and had some elderberry wine. The dog was sick. Auntie Dosie had to have three aspirins, but Auntie Hannah, who liked port, stood in the middle of the snowbound back yard, singing like a big-bosomed thrush. I would blow up balloons to see how big they would blow up to; and, when they burst, which they all did, the Uncles jumped and rumbled. In the rich and heavy afternoon, the Uncles breathing like dolphins and the snow descending, I would sit among festoons and Chinese lanterns and nibble dates and try to make a model man-o’-war, following the Instructions for Little Engineers, and produce what might be mistaken for a sea-going tramcar.

    Or I would go out, my bright new boots squeaking, into the white world, on to the seaward hill, to call on Jim and Dan and Jack and to pad through the still streets, leaving huge footprints on the hidden pavements.
    “I bet people will think there’s been hippos.”
    “What would you do if you saw a hippo coming down our street?”
    “I’d go like this, bang! I’d throw him over the railings and roll him down the hill and then I’d tickle him under the ear and he’d wag his tail.”
    “What would you do if you saw two hippos?”

    Iron-flanked and bellowing he-hippos clanked and battered through the scudding snow toward us as we passed Mr. Daniel’s house.
    “Let’s post Mr. Daniel a snow-ball through his letter box.”
    “Let’s write things in the snow.”
    “Let’s write, ‘Mr. Daniel looks like a spaniel’ all over his lawn.”
    Or we walked on the white shore. “Can the fishes see it’s snowing?”

    The silent one-clouded heavens drifted on to the sea. Now we were snow-blind travelers lost on the north hills, and vast dewlapped dogs, with flasks round their necks, ambled and shambled up to us, baying “Excelsior.” We returned home through the poor streets where only a few children fumbled with bare red fingers in the wheel-rutted snow and cat-called after us, their voices fading away, as we trudged uphill, into the cries of the dock birds and the hooting of ships out in the whirling bay. And then, at tea the recovered Uncles would be jolly; and the ice cake loomed in the center of the table like a marble grave. Auntie Hannah laced her tea with rum, because it was only once a year.

    Bring out the tall tales now that we told by the fire as the gaslight bubbled like a diver. Ghosts whooed like owls in the long nights when I dared not look over my shoulder; animals lurked in the cubbyhole under the stairs and the gas meter ticked. And I remember that we went singing carols once, when there wasn’t the shaving of a moon to light the flying streets. At the end of a long road was a drive that led to a large house, and we stumbled up the darkness of the drive that night, each one of us afraid, each one holding a stone in his hand in case, and all of us too brave to say a word. The wind through the trees made noises as of old and unpleasant and maybe web-footed men wheezing in caves. We reached the black bulk of the house. “What shall we give them? Hark the Herald?”
    “No,” Jack said, “Good King Wenceslas. I’ll count three.” One, two three and we began to sing, our voices high and seemingly distant in the snow-felted darkness round the house that was occupied by nobody we knew. We stood close together, near the dark door. Good King Wenceslas looked out On the Feast of Stephen … And then a small, dry voice, like the voice of someone who has not spoken for a long time, joined our singing: a small, dry, eggshell voice from the other side of the door: a small dry voice through the keyhole. And when we stopped running we were outside our house; the front room was lovely; balloons floated under the hot-water-bottle-gulping gas; everything was good again and shone over the town.
    “Perhaps it was a ghost,” Jim said. “
    Perhaps it was trolls,” Dan said, who was always reading.
    “Let’s go in and see if there’s any jelly left,” Jack said. And we did that.

    Always on Christmas night there was music. An uncle played the fiddle, a cousin sang “Cherry Ripe,” and another uncle sang “Drake’s Drum.” It was very warm in the little house. Auntie Hannah, who had got on to the parsnip wine, sang a song about Bleeding Hearts and Death, and then another in which she said her heart was like a Bird’s Nest; and then everybody laughed again; and then I went to bed. Looking through my bedroom window, out into the moonlight and the unending smoke-colored snow, I could see the lights in the windows of all the other houses on our hill and hear the music rising from them up the long, steady falling night. I turned the gas down, I got into bed. I said some words to the close and holy darkness, and then I slept.
    The Ornament on the Christmas Tree

    There were more beautiful ornaments than Nel, but none could do the things he did after
    the lights went off on the tree. Nel helped the ornaments stay in good condition, and he
    listened to their comments about trying to cope with always being beautiful. There was one ornament, particularly this season, that had a problem. It was the jack in a box, which was a gift given to the family that year. Well it seemed that Jack was lonely because he had spent so many holidays with another family that he felt abandoned. You see the other family moved out of town and decided to give away some of their cherished possessions to their friends.

    Nel talked to Jack that night about how, he, a cardboard angel had come into the house.
    He was lonely, too, in the beginning, but he started to talk to the other ornaments each
    night after the lights were turned down. They told him how they missed their families. It
    seemed eventually that each were noticed by a special guest and touched with great care.
    When this happened, they became loved again. Nel thought for a moment and told jack in the box to just wait a few more days until the Christmas party. He was sure to be noticed and appreciated then.

    That day arrived and Nel was right because on that Saturday evening the children had their annual party before the adults dinner later that night. It was then that a small boy reached his hand up to the branch on the tree and touched the treasured jack in the box. It was a thrilling time for Jack to feel needed once again. The boy kept saying he had never seen such an unusual toy and so well made. The owner of the house looked at the smile on the boy’s face and brought over a small box so Jack would not get tossed around on his journey to his new home.

    “Please, the toy is yours,” said the kind man.

    The boy was so thrilled that he lifted the toy from the tree with such care it felt brand new again.

    “Merry Christmas Nel,” shouted Jack. He was then safely put away in the cozy container until he could be opened again with great care and admiration.

    “I will never forget our friendship and what you taught me,” were Jack’s parting words to
    Nel. Then Jack was taken out of the home by the boy who was smiling happily while taking one last look at the ornaments still waiting for a tender touch. “Blessings to you Jack,” cried out Nel. A tear came down his little angel eye, as he was so happy for another ornament had been loved.

    After the lights went out that evening, Nel felt a feeling of contentment and no longer just a plain cardboard angel. He felt he had a special purpose and tonight proved it. He had made another ornament think happy thoughts so it would look brand new sitting on that tree.

    Today let us think happy thoughts so our faces will look cheerful as we greet the day. We can be just as brand new at 92 as we were at two years old if we just smile at the world.

    1993 Carol Ann Garretson All Rights Reserved

    • Reply kalebrakelby December 28, 2017 at 10:30 am

      Wow—thank you for sharing, Mike—I love these stories. 😊

      • Reply Mike Nelson Pedde December 28, 2017 at 2:55 pm

        You’re most welcome!! We are, in the end, the stories we tell ourselves and others. The important part is remembering we’re the authors of our own lives.


        • Reply kalebrakelby December 30, 2017 at 10:00 pm

          You always have such interesting perspectives, Mike, I always enjoy talking to you. Hugs right back to the two of you. 🙂

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