I like to recite the poem ’Twas the Night Before Christmas even though I don’t know all the words. The poem’s real title is A Visit from St. Nicholas. Sometimes I just hum it in my head. Other times, I fill in the lines with other words that feel merry enough to make it work.
I like this 19th century poem because it still feels relevant. It’s almost 200 years old and when I hear it in commercials or in children’s school plays, I see how it makes people feel happy. With all the change that is pushing us forward, sometimes into a world unknown to us, it’s nice to connect with something as old as a pre-civil war era poem.
We still do many of the things said in the poem. Kids go to bed on Christmas Eve, hoping to be awakened by old St. Nick during a quiet night when not even a mouse could be heard stirring. We still hang stockings over the chimney with care.
I’m not sure if kids go to bed with visions of sugar-plums dancing in their heads, but they certainly have other hard candy in mind. When Santa arrives he still does so by landing his sleigh on a snowy, moonlight night.
He still calls his trusty reindeer by name, Dasher and Dancer, Prancer, and Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen. And he always does it in that order. Santa comes and goes quickly, everything seems all a flurry, so it’s hard to see all that is happening in such a hurry.
Even today, after all of this time, we hear hoofs on rooftops and toys making their way down chimneys. Santa still has a twinkle in his eyes and merry dimples. His cheeks remain like roses, his nose like a cherry. The beard is as white as snow, his belly still round. When laughs, jolliness can be felt all through the house.
Somehow through the great transformational changes we have experienced in the last two centuries, we are those little kids we were in the 1830s, waiting on something special, on the most magical night of the year.
We try to be good all year long and we have parents that tuck us into bed after leaving out the cookies and milk. We hope to receive a special gift that means something to us from someone we love. We…