In Clement Clarke Moore’s memorable poem, “Twas’ the Night Before Christmas,” the house was quiet as can be, the stockings were hung by the chimney with care and the children were all nestled in their beds – in the hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.
Moore, an ancient languages scholar, wrote the poem to amuse his six children. With six children, how’d he find the time to write, but that’s a question for another day.
Anyway, his poem appeared anonymously in newspapers beginning in the early 1820s, titled “A Visit From St. Nicholas.” Moore later told the New York Historical Society that the character of St. Nicholas was inspired by an overweight neighbor who lived in his Chelsea, New York neighborhood.
I can’t help but be amused by the image of a rosy-cheeked, elfin-like man with a little round belly that shook when he laughed like a bowl of jelly, who delivers presents in a single night.
But here’s what I really want to know. In the immortal words of radio broadcaster Paul Harvey, I want to know “the rest of the story. In more modern terms, I want to know what happens in the sequel.
We learn in the last stanza that St. Nicholas “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!”
Okay, okay, great, call me crazy, but what happened after sun had risen, the wrapping paper had been ripped off the presents, and the Christmas Caroles sung. What happened later in the day and the day after Christmas? I’m full of questions and no real answers?
–Did Moore report the home intruder to police? Did he call the FBI, the CIA, or the local SWAT team, getting them on the lookout for St. Nicholas? Did he post pictures of the packages St. Nicholas delivered on Instagram or Twitter? If you don’t post your favorite picture on social media, can you really say that Christmas happened? Does it really count? C’mon Moore, where’s the proof? Without any photos, did his friends and neighbors claim it was fake news?
–And what about the reindeer? Eight tiny reindeer? St. Nicholas even calls out to the reindeer: “Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now 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!”
Um, I hate to be a whistleblower. I hate to be a Debbie Downer, but that sure sounds like animal abuse. Where’s the Humane Society or PETA? Yes, St. Nicholas put those poor little reindeer through their paces on a sacred holy night. Did St. Nicholas have the proper paperwork to work those reindeer? If he doesn’t watch it, he could get fined or go to prison for cruelty to animals. C’mon on Santa, not cool, not cool at all.
And where’s Rudolph? No Rudolph, this sounds really fishy. Everyone knows that Santa came to Rudolph one foggy Christmas and said, “Rudolph with your nose so bright, won’t you guide my sleight tonight?” And then how the reindeer loved him.” You can’t mess up a story like that.
–Did Moore and his children get up out of bed and check out the presents right away or did they wait until morning? The poem says that the children’s heads were filled with visions of sugar plums – Google tells me that sugar plums back in Moore’s day were actually sugar-coated coriander, round tan-colored seeds. I can think of better things to dream about: Hershey’s chocolate bars, dark chocolate from across the world, sugary gummy candies, a hot, new Porsche convertible in my driveway to name a few, but nonetheless, it’s usually really hard to go back to sleep after getting woken in the middle of the night. What did they do?
–How did little Johnny, Jimmy, and sweet baby Annabelle or whatever their names respond? Were they grateful for their presents? Did they love and care for each other and pronounce the good news of the new king’s birth or were they so overwhelmed by their new iPhone 11s that they forget all that stuff about a baby being born in a stable?
I have other questions too. What about the milk and cookies? There’s no mention if Moore left anything out for Santa. And if he did, was it milk and cookies or did he have inside information that Santa has a dairy thing going on and instead leave out six-pack of beer and a gluten-free pizza?
My questions get deeper too. How does St. Nicholas keep that darn Santa hat on his head, especially when he’s traveling so fast on his sleigh? To hit every house across the globe, you would need a sleigh traveling faster than the speed of light. When I wear one of those Santa hats, though, I get up to walk to the kitchen and my hat inevitably slides off my head and falls on the floor. What’s the deal? Is it stapled to his head? Is it glued to his hair? C’mon on Santa inquiring minds want to know.
I love this poem, but these are the questions I’ve long pondered. Until someone in the know comes out with a sequel, I’m left with no real answers. In any event, here’s hoping for a joyous Christmas to one and all!