Here in the Bay Area we are a diverse society. We have many beliefs, customs, and special days. Alameda County Libraries do a wonderful job of celebrating these days throughout the year, and it is fun to learn about others’ traditions. The library also has many books and dvds that teach us about the customs of other cultures. I hope we all will take advantage of these resources. The more we know about others, the more we learn to understand and appreciate them.
Today, I would like to write about one of my traditions. I grew up with Santa Claus , and can remember the excitement and anticipation the night before Christmas. At home we always had a Christmas tree, and presents. I remember leaving cookies and milk for Santa. I also remember reading ‘The Night Before Christmas’, and then going to bed and trying to hear Santa’s sleigh before I fell asleep. I hope that you and your family enjoy this poem as much as I have over the years.
A Visit from St Nicholas.
by Clement C. 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 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 wrote the Christmas poem twas the night before Christmas for his children in 1822. Professor Moore’s Christmas poem or Christmas story twas the night before Christmas is a classic American Christmas story. Clement Clarke Moore, a professor of Greek and Oriental Literature at the Episcopal General Theological Seminary in New York City, wrote “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” also called “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” for his son Robert in 1822. Robert liked to ride his pony, Lightening, in the woods and one day, he and his pony took a spill. Since his pony had broken 2 legs, they shot it. Robert loved his pony so much, so he did not try to get well, and each day he called pitifully for Lightening. His father had been working on a dictionary before the accident and thought if only he could write a Christmas story that would interest his son. He had written many books for college students, but never a children’s book. He finished writing “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” on Christmas eve. As he started to read, a few lines at a time, Robert responded with a tiny smile and by the time he was through reading the Christmas poem, he said, “Read it again.” Again his father read the story of a visit from St. Nicholas. This time when Moore finished reading the holiday poem, Robert asked if their tree was up. When his father said it was, Robert asked to see it. Moore’s holiday poem is now a classic American Christmas story.
Professor Moore was a private person and was embarrassed by the popularity of his Christmas poem or Christmas story twas the night before Christmas. Moore finally acknowledged writing the Christmas poem or Christmas story twas the night before Christmas in 1837. The sentinel published the Christmas story twas the night before Christmas poem a decade later.
In 1863 the cartoonist Thomas Nast created images of the Christmas story (twas the night before Christmas poem). We associate these Christmas story images (twas the night before Christmas poem) even today.
Mr. Moore spoke modestly of his Christmas story (twas the night before Christmas poem) but the Christmas story (twas the night before Christmas poem) is a special present to us all.