The Night Before Christmas, by Yvonne Archibald

T’was the night before Christmas when all over the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care
In the hopes that Saint Nicholas would soon be there

Bertie is sleeping all snug in his bed
While dreams of turkey spin round in his head
Al’s in his jammies and I’m in mine too
Just about to partake of a drink or two
When out in the garden we hear such a clatter
And rush to the kitchen to see what’s the matter
Over to the door I ran in a flash
Turned the key and outside I dashed

The moon was shining in the still frosty night
But I was still thankful for our security light
As what I saw took my breath away
It was eight Icelandic’s hitched to a sleigh
With a little old driver so lively and quick
I knew in a moment it must be Saint Nick
More rapid than eagles his horses they came
& he whistled softly and called them by name

“Now Magnus, now Jofur, now Birting, now Farr
now Ida, now Soldis, now Barri, now Holmar
To the top of the porch, to the top of the wall
Tolt away, tolt away, tolt away all”
And then in an instant I heard on the roof
The stamping and pawing of each little hoof
I took a deep breath and turned around
And down our chimney Saint Nick was bound

He was dressed all in in fur from head to foot
And his clothes were covered in ashes and soot
A large empty sack he had slung on his back
And he looked a right chancer as he opened this pack
His eye were quite blood-shot yet his smile was still merry
And I thought to myself he’s had way too much sherry
He staggered a bit and sat down in a heap
He hiccupped then burped and fell sound asleep
He’d a happy wee face and a round fat belly
That shook when he snored like a bowl full of jelly
The beard on his face was as white as snow
But regardless of this he still had to go

I picked up the phone and dialled 999
The police were there in double quick time
Sergeant Stewart arrived and in she came
Woke my guest and asked for his name
He kept maintaining he was Saint Nick
So they marched him away pretty damn quick
We locked all the doors and went through to bed
I was now exhausted, a right sleepy head
My head hit the pillow and I fell sound asleep
My sleep was relaxing, dreamless and deep
I woke in the morning, stretched and yawned
And smiled as I knew Christmas day had dawned

I switched on the TV and every station
Was running a story that shocked the nation
Christmas had been cancelled or so it seemed
As no sight of Saint Nick and his Icelandic team
No presents delivered to good girls and boys
No bikes, no games, no books, no toys
A feeling of dread crept into my bones
I started to sweat and reached for my phone
As I suddenly realised the awful truth
When I heard a loud thump up on the roof
I ran outside and looked up to the sky
And there were his horses waiting to fly
They whinnied at me and I let out a cheer
I now needed a plan that much was clear

Just as I was pondering what I should do
Saint Nick arrived with the boys in blue
They were now convinced that he was for real
So he was free to go that was the deal
But what about Christmas I heard myself ask
To rectify this would be no easy task

Saint Nick placed a pipe tight in his teeth
The smoke encircling his head like a wreath
He was chubby and plump like a big jolly elf
And I laughed when I saw him in spite of myself
The twinkle in his eye and a nod of his head
Let me know I had nothing to dread
He spoke not a word but went straight to work
He smiled at me then turned with a jerk
And laying his finger at the side of his nose
He winked as up to the roof he rose
He jumped on his sleigh and gave a cry
And he and the horses started to fly

The next thing I knew I woke up in bed
Had I dreamed this, was it all in my head
I jumped out of bed and turned on the telly
With that feeling of dread back down in my belly
But the children had pressies, all appeared fine
Cliff was again singing Mistletoe and wine

I went through to the kitchen to put on the kettle
A nice cup of tea would help my nerves settle
When I looked out the window and let out a roar
Grabbed my jacket and ran out the door
There in the garden was a lovely surprise
I had to pinch myself and rub my eyes
Saint Nick stood there full of Christmas good cheer
He smiled and said “this is for you my dear
To show no hard feelings plus I got your letter”
Could this Christmas get any better?
He handed me my very own Icelandic horse
And whispered “Oh & Merry Christmas of course”

Yvonne Archibald, 2019