'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 down 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 tiny 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, Donder 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 hand, 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."
A Soldier's Night Before Christmas
'Twas the night before Christmas,
The man lived all alone,
In a one bedroom house
Made of worn plaster and busted stone.
I had come down the unswept chimney
With my sparkling presents to give,
And to see just who it was
That in this shabby house did live.
I searched all about,
What a harsh sight I did see,
No tinsel and no wrapped presents,
Not even a wretched tree.
No stocking by the worn mantle,
Just unwashed boots filled with sand,
And in the hallway hung worthless pictures
Of exiled, offshore lands.
With medals and badges,
Between awards and wreaths of kinds,
Then, an awakening thought
Came into my mind.
For this house was all different,
When I could see in the dark,
I had found the home of a soldier,
It was withdrawn and stark.
The unabashed hero lay sleeping,
He was hushed, he was alone,
Curled up on the floor
In this bleak, one bedroom home.
The face was so gentle,
The room in such disorder,
Not at all how I pictured
A twentieth-century soldier.
Was this the mighty national hero
Of whom I had just read,
Nestled up in a cheap shawl,
With the harsh floor as his bed?
Then I thought of the wealthy families
That I saw this harsh, white night,
Who owed their lives to those fallen soldiers
Who were so willing to fight.
Soon all around the whole world,
The chubby children would awaken and play,
And the grownups would worship in church
On an enchanted, white Christmas day.
They all enjoy the benefits
Each month of the year,
Because of all the majestic soldiers,
Like the exhausted one sleeping here.
I couldn't help but just think
How many lay sleeping alone,
On a hallowed Christmas night
In a hellish Afghan township far from home?
That weighted, painful thought
Brought a tear to my eye,
I fell to my haunches
And ashamed, started to cry.
Then the weathered soldier awakened
And I heard a husky, hushed voice,
Saying "Hush, Santa. Please don't weep,
Herein is my life of choice;
I fight for freedom,
Hell, I won't ask for more,
My life is my god,
and my country is my corps."
The soldier then eased weakly over
And went back to sleep,
I couldn't hold it in
And continued to weep.
I kept watch there for a while,
That lengthy night - bleak and still
And we both shivered weakly
From the hazy winter night's chill.
I didn't want to leave
On that bleak and dark night,
This quietly spoken keeper of honor
Who was so willing to fight.
Then the man awakened and rolled back over,
And with a voice unshaken and pure,
Whispered peacefully, "Keep going now, Santa,
It's Christmas, all is secure."
One look at the watch,
And I knew he was right.
I said, "Happy Christmas, my honest hero,
And to all a good night."