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'Twas the Night Before Christmas

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas is arguably the most popular poem written by an American, and it had a huge influence over our ideas about Christmas from the mid nineteenth century to today. It is a great poem that I’ve always loved, but I do see a lot of red flags in that story that poor Saint Nick is in over his head and overcommits on Christmas, just like the rest of us. It starts with the parents settling in for a long winter’s nap, which any parent on Christmas Eve knows that’s definitely going to get interrupted by a clatter. The Dad springs from his bed to see what was the matter because there’s been an epidemic of Grinches stealing packages from people’s porches, so Dad is just making sure the clatter is just an animal rifling through their garbage or something. But then he remembers he downloaded that app that can show him who’s on his porch at all times, so he feels confident that his family is safe again. Suddenly Saint Nick comes down with “a bound” and is covered in “ashes and soot,” which shows a more accurate picture of the huge disastrous mess he’s going to make when he slams down into your house, covered in filth that’s going to be super hard to clean. Why didn’t he just come to the door and knock? If you come bearing gifts, I’ll let you in no problem. If he thinks he’s sneaking in to leave presents, he’s delusional because there’s no way to quietly land a heavy, toy filled sleigh and eight reindeer on somebody’s roof without them hearing. Even if Ma in her kerchief and Dad in his cap have a fan or a CPAP machine running, they’re going to hear that! Then he is described as having cheeks that are like roses, and a nose like a cherry. Poor guy is over exerting himself! He might even have a medical condition, and nobody checks his blood pressure to see if he’s ok! “His droll little mouth drawn up like a bow” sounds like he’s having trouble breathing, poor guy. But then the author describes Saint Nick smoking a pipe, so now we know why he’s having respiratory issues. The only nice thing we do for him is offer him cookies and milk, which actually might help with the hypoglycemic reaction he’s having by doing too much in one night. But I just can’t figure out why he “laid his finger aside his nose.” Was that a signal to call the paramedics? Did he catch pneumonia flying around in a sled that’s not enclosed and he’s just trying to clear up his newly acquired sinus infection? I hope he’s spreading good cheer and not the flu. Either way, I hope you all have a magical Christmas that involves giving and receiving the true meaning of Christmas, and good will towards men of course! Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

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