I’ve had a difficult time finding my Christmas cheer this holiday season.  Between the stress of grad school, finding good gifts for my large family, and in general the other work it takes wrapping, cooking, and planning, I just haven’t felt as jolly as I normally do this time of year.  When you add the devastating tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary and the other violence that permeates the news and internet, it is easy to lose faith in humanity and what little Christmas spirit there is, seems to disappear before you can really grab on to it.

So to hopefully help me find some Christmas cheer and to honor those involved in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, I’ve decided to go back to one of my favorite Christmas memories as a child listening to my PopPop (grandfather) read “Twas the Night Before Christmas” to my cousins, brothers, and me on Christmas Eve.  I remember all of us gathering around his recliner in our pajamas and thinking he was larger than life.  This was probably the only time we were all quiet for an extended period of time.  My grandfather passed away a couple of months ago and this memory is how I choose to remember him.

According to Wikipedia, “The Night Before Christmas” aka “A Visit from St. Nicholas” aka “Twas the Night Before Christmas”, was written by possibly either Major Henry Livingston Jr or Clement Clarke Moore.  It was originally published anonymously in 1823 and has been called “arguably the best-known verses ever written by and American.”  It is largely responsible for some of the conceptions of Santa Claus we hold today.

I hope you take the time to read the verses, I think you will find the magic we felt as children during Christmastime.  The magic found in the anticipation, excitement, and awe of Christmas morning, that is somehow lost as we grow older.  I offer this blog post, as a remembrance of the Christmas magic that was lost that morning on December 14th.

“Twas the Night Before Christmas” 

‘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!
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,

My wishes for all of you, this holiday season, is that you are filled with love, laughter, and good old fashioned holiday cheer.  Be kind to those around you (not just to your family and friends) and when the holidays get stressful, and you know they will, take a deep breath and remember that when it is all said and done, you won’t remember the 25 minute wait to buy a pair of $3 socks.  Instead it will be the memories you create that will stick with you, like the memory I have of my PopPop at Christmas.  Those memories are where you find the Christmas cheer, spirit, and magic.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!