Michelle Smiles

Teaching my children to question authority, except mine.

Christmas Eve



This is the post from last year.  It all holds true is you substitute 4 years for 3. I’ve shared some  form of this post for several years on my blog.  It remains one of my most treasured holiday traditions and I am trying to carry it on with my girls.

I’ll be missing one tradition today as I have for the past 3 Christmas Eves.  My dad was not a particularly sentimental guy but we had one tradition between just us.  Every year, no matter where we were, he would read me Twas the Night Before Christmas every year.  I would call him before bed if we weren’t in the same place.  I made that call from some strange places over the years – work, in-laws, locked in a bathroom at a holiday party, my car, maybe even from a sidewalk in front of a bar one year.  I never missed that call.  Through the years it sometimes meant more to one of us than the other (during my teen years, I made the call for him…later I made it more for me) but it was our tradition.  It was our thing – one of the few things that existed just between the 2 of us.  My dad passed away 3 years ago this month, tonight there will be no call.  This year, it is my tradition to carry on with my children.  I breaks my heart he never knew my girls and never got to read Twas the Night Before Christmas to the next generation.

I’m sure when Dad started reading it to me as a child he never dreamed it would turn into such an important tradition with us.  Some traditions aren’t planned that way and those are often the best ones.

Always the original version (by Clement Clarke Moore).

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 our brains 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 luster of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tinny 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, on Donner 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 head, 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!”

posted under family
10 Comments to

“Christmas Eve”

  1. On December 24th, 2009 at 11:19 am amy2boys Says:

    This is so wonderful – what a great tradition. The best kind – nothing elaborate, just simple and easy to do each year, and just between the two of you. I’m sorry for your loss.

    (Way to go making me cry on Christmas Eve, yo.)

    Have a Merry Christmas Michelle!

  2. On December 24th, 2009 at 12:32 pm Heather Says:

    That sounds fabulous Michelle…what an amazing tradition you had with your dad and I hope you will have with your girls! thanks so much for sharing!!

    can you pass the tissues please amy??

  3. On December 24th, 2009 at 3:19 pm Cathy Says:

    oh, michelle, this brought tears to my eyes. what a lovely tradition to continue with your daughters. your dad would love that, i’m sure!

  4. On December 24th, 2009 at 10:02 pm Sonia in MO (FTC) Says:

    Michelle, I remember your first Christmas after your Dad passed away when you posted about this – it made me cry then and still does. But what a wonderful way to honor that tradition and the memories, by sharing the story with your girls.

    Merry Christmas to you and your beautiful family.

  5. On December 26th, 2009 at 10:53 am Bobbi Says:

    well, where oh where was the tissue warning!!??? What a wonderful and beautiful tradition that I hope travels with you with your girls!

  6. On December 27th, 2009 at 9:39 pm Stephanie Says:

    Oh wow. What a wonderful tradition. This also brought tears to my eyes.

  7. On December 28th, 2009 at 3:54 pm carla Says:

    you have changed my life and chris’ life by sharing this with us after your dad passed away.

    we talk about this often and chris has created his own tradition with emma in honor of you and your dad.

  8. On December 28th, 2009 at 9:48 pm Rhonda Says:

    I am so sorry for the loss of your dad. What a glorious and joyful tradition, absolutely love it. Very special.

  9. On December 29th, 2009 at 10:35 pm dana Says:

    I know it’s a loss to not be able to make that call to your dad. I’ve got similar circumstances so I understand very well. I can only imagine how happy it makes your dad to see you continue that great tradition with your own children. I’m sure as you read to them he is up there with eyes gleaming with happiness knowing how much it has meant to you. Happy Holidays!

  10. On December 24th, 2010 at 8:45 pm sara Says:

    We had the same tradition – my father would always read Twas the Night Before Christmas to me and my sisters and then to his grandchildren (my sisters’ children). Unfortunately it never worked out that my kids (now ages 5, almost 4 and due in 4 weeks) got to have him read it to them in person. He just passed away in October and I had such mixed emotions listening to my husband read the story to them. Beautiful tradition but very bittersweet that it has to be modified….