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'T WAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS (A Visit From St. Nicholas) (credited - Clement Clarke Moore - 1823) (disputed - Major Henry Livingston Jr. - 1823) Peter, Paul, & Mary 't Was the night before Christmas and all through the house Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse The stockings were hung by the chimney with care In the 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. Mom 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 my bed to see what was the matter Away to the window I flew with a flash Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow Gave a luster 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 Well I knew in a moment, it must be St. Nick More rapid than eagles, his coursers they came And he whistled and he shouted and he called them by name "On Dasher, on Dancer, on Prancer and Vixen On Comet, on Cupid, 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 to an obstacle mount to the sky So up to the rooftop the coursers they flew With a sleigh full of toys and St. Nicholas too. And then in a twinkling, I heard on the roof The prancing, the 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 op'ning 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 in a bow And the beard on 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 laughed (ho, ho, ho, ho) like a bowl full of jelly (ho, ho, ho, ho) 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 and turned with a jerk And laying a finger to the side of his nose And giving a nod up the chimney he rose He sprang to his sleigh, and to his team gave a whistle And away they all flew like the down of a thistle But I heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight "Merry Christmas to all and to all..goodnight Goodnight." ***** 'T WAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS (another version) 'Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house I searched for the tools to hand to my spouse. Instructions were studied and we were inspired, In hopes we could manage, "Some Assembly Required." The children were quiet (not asleep) in their beds, While Dad and I faced the evening with dread: A kitchen, two bikes, Barbie's town house to boot! And, thanks to Grandpa, a train with a toot! We opened the boxes, my heart skipped a beat.... Let no pieces be missing or parts incomplete! Too late for last-minute returns or replacement; If we can't get it right, it goes down in the basement! When what to my worrying eyes should appear, But 50 sheets of directions, concise, but not clear, With each part numbered and every slot named, So if there were failure, only we could be blamed. More rapid than eagles the parts then fell out, All over the carpet they were scattered about. "Now bolt it! Now twist it! Attach it right there! Slide on the seats, and staple the stair! Hammer the shelves, and nail to the stand." "Honey," said hubby, "you just glued my hand." And then in a twinkling, I knew for a fact That all the toy dealers had indeed made a pact. To keep parents busy all Christmas Eve night With "assembly required" till morning's first light. We spoke not a word, but kept bent at our work, Till our eyes, they went bleary; our fingers all hurt. The coffee went cold and the night it wore thin Before we attached the last rod and last pin. Then laying the tools away in the chest, We fell into bed for a well-deserved rest. But I said to my husband just before I passed out, "This will be the best Christmas, without any doubt. Tomorrow we'll cheer, let the holiday ring, And not have to run to the store for a thing! We did it! We did it! The toys are all set For the perfect, most perfectest Christmas, I bet!" Then off to dreamland, at last sweet repose I gratefully went, although I suppose There's something to say for those self-deluded I'd forgotten that BATTERIES are never included! (Contributed by Cooks - December 2003)

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