‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the land,
The Y2K fears were now quite out of hand.
The rifles were hung by the doorways, the shooters
Hoping to pick off some Y2K looters.
Fanatics were frantic, insisting they hunker
Deep in their sub-basement “just in case” bunkers.
Up on the surface, the zealots were warning
That no one on earth would survive New Year’s morning.
And those who weren’t scared were not acting much better:
Acting as dumb as a big Irish setter,
People got crazy — all common sense severed —
Wanting to have the best New Year’s bash EVER!
Parties were planned that you’d never have thunk up;
Gallons of beer and champagne to be drunk up;
Lechery, lewdness and cultural sewage
All just to herald the dawn of a new age.
I said to myself, “This is lunacy, this is:
Nobody seems to remember it’s Christmas.
Peace and goodwill cannot be celebrated
When everyone’s freaked out or inebriated.”
I sat on the couch with my kids and my wife
To watch on TV “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
When out on the lawn there arose such a yell,
I sprang from the couch and I said, “What the heck?”
Out in the yard there was Santa himself
With his entourage, made up of fairy and elf.
The big jolly guy seemed unable to speak;
A single tear coursed down his rosy-red cheek.
His voice was so quiet you barely could hear it:
He whispered, “What’s happened to Christmastime spirit?
Money and greed may cause folks to neglect it,
But this year’s millennial madness has wrecked it!
“The meaning of Christmas is all but forgotten
As folks check their food storage, see if it’s rotten,
Making out all kinds of lists, in a panic —
Enough to make me all depressive and manic.”
I sympathized with him; I knew what he meant.
To think of the Christ child was no one’s intent.
The gifts and the parties were bad enough yearly,
But this time around, they hurt Christmas severely.
“But what can we do?” I asked Santa himself.
And then he became a right jolly old elf.
He said with a twinkle, “WE still know the reason
That people should celebrate each Chrismas season.
“We’ll buy them all presents — so what if they scoff?
The spirit of giving is reason enough.
If they want to overlook Christmas, then let ’em.
We’ll show them the Savior will never forget ’em.
For that’s what He’d do if he were here on earth —
He’d give us all presents we didn’t deserve.
His life was a gift that no one was entitled to;
Reminding of that is what one good Yuletide’ll do.”
So Santa and I went to buy presents for
The people whose minds weren’t on Christmas no more.
For people who feared Y2K’s helter-skelter,
We bought scented candles, to cheer their bomb shelters.
For people whose goal was to party obnoxiously:
Streamers, balloons, ought to help them act raucously.
They thought it quite odd that we’d give them the presents,
But frankly, their puzzlement adds to the pleasance.
So Santa was pleased (so was I, you should know);
He said, “Thank you, friend. But it’s time I should go.”
As the wise old man left, I could still hear him say:
“Merry Christmas to all — it’ll all be OK!”
I did a "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" thing the last time I was writing a humor column for The Daily Herald at Christmas, so it seemed fitting to do it now that I was writing for them again.
This column was hard to write. Rhyming is not always an easy thing to do, especially if you're trying to tell a story at the same time. Fortunately, I'm familiar with the major poetic works of our day, having read the entire Dr. Seuss library and a lot of greetings cards. ("Entitled to" and "Yuletide'll do"? Genius!)
It was also hard to write because I knew it wasn't going to be very funny. I wanted to make a point about how Christmas was being overlooked in 1999, and I also wanted to do a "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" thing. I also wanted to say something legitimate about what Christmas is really for, which is far more sentimental than I usually get in these things. But I figured showing a mildly sensitive side couldn't do me any harm, especially after the vicious swipes I took at the Shane Company and "The Christmas Box" the previous two weeks.