Four streets from where I grew up, there was a placard in the sidewalk that stated that a man named Clement Clark Moore had a farm on that spot. Someone smarter than me, and there were many, informed me that Mr. Moore had penned the poem near and dear to us called The Night Before Christmas, only Mr. Moore called it A Visit From Saint Nicholas. It began: "T'was the night before Christmas and all through the house…"
I was amazed that someone in my neighborhood (even if it was in the "once upon a time" time) had actually written my favorite Christmas poem; the poem was so easily read, so easy to remember, so easy to memorize. Most of it I had not a clue to what he was talking about; oh, there were pictures in my books illustrating the passages, and for a kid in the projects, they opened up a fine and fancy fantasy world where all things were possible on Christmas.
I got the "not a creature was stirring" bit and the "stockings were hung" because that's what WE did also, in the same hopes "that Saint Nicholas soon would be here;" however, I for one could not picture myself nestled or snuggled with sugarplums dancing in my head; I was too antsy on Christmas Eve.
Add to that, Mama was never in a kerchief, or for that matter, Pops in a cap "settling down for a long winters nap." Mom was drinking beer, waiting for Pops to get off work and come home with a stolen tree that the Jewish neighbor (on the promise of a bottle of scotch) would trim, and it was "get to bed, ya bastards, or nobody's getting' nuthin' for Christmas" that sent us packing for a long winter's nap.
There was no clatter on the lawn (we had concrete), nor anyone interested in "seeing what was the matter," but here came the good part, the magic in my brain: "the moon on the breast of the new fallen snow gave the luster of midday to objects below." WOW, I mean WOW! And "more rapid than eagles his courses they came and he whistled and shouted?"
Them first six reindeer's names I comprehended and the other two I found out, Donner and Blitzen actually are German for thunder and lightning! Wow again! I found myself yelling, "To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!" Here we come, dashing away all. Golly, it takes your breath away; so it slows down so soft and rhythmically "as dry leaves before a hurricane fly when they meet with an obstacle mount to the sky" AND Santa has landed!
He makes it down the chimney; he's covered in ashes (of course!) from head to foot. He's got toys! A bag of them! He's laughing and winking; he's smoking a pipe, and he's round and jolly! He has twinkly eyes and dimples; merry dimples. "The beard on his chin was as white as the snow." How can you not love this guy and leave him cookies and milk? He's got a belly that shakes like a bowl full of jelly, for Christ's sake!
Then he puts his finger on his nose and flies back up the chimney; he springs to his sleigh and gives the guys the whistle and "away they all flew like the down from a thistle" (whatever THAT was). There he goes wishing everyone a happy Christmas and "to all a good night;" how could you not believe?
Well, I believe; although Christmas morning wasn't always a bed of roses, I still believe. I believe that when it was foggy, he had to get a reindeer with a shiny nose. I even believed someone when they told me that Olive was the "other reindeer" who used to laugh and call Rudolph names; question: if you were a reindeer and wanted to laugh and call another reindeer names, what would you say? "I heard you were goin' down in history?" "I was told you were caught playing stable tennis with an elf." "Was that you eating Deerios for breakfast?" Poor Rudy, but he showed them!
Of course I believe. I also believe in the Easter Bunny, Cupid on Valentine's Day, Peter Pan, and that pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. I always avoided stepping on cracks for fear of breaking someone's back; I pick up pennies in the street for luck, and I put my turn signal on when driving even when no one can see. You see, Santa's watching. He sees me when I'm sleeping and he knows if I've been bad or good; and I now am "good, for goodness' sake."
Of course you know that in times like these, it's easy to forget the little things that make this world a little bit nicer to live in, like being kind to people that are strangers to you; like being polite; like giving what you have to someone who has less.
Listen, Santa lives on because Santa knows that life is a bitch at times, in fact most times, and just the fact that this little fat guy in a red suit with twinkly eyes, round belly, and dimples has a bag of toys for good girls and boys gives us hope that we won't make that Naughty or Nice List.
So what if I didn't get that machine gun, motorcycle, or airline ticket out of here? I still leave cookies and milk, even if I have to have them for breakfast; Santa's a busy guy. Wait! Did I just hear the prancing and pawing of hooves on the roof? OR, have the squirrels decided to move back in? Anyway, Happy Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, and don't forget to go to The Joint for a burger on Boxing Day after you give your stuff away to the needy. Cheers!