Michelle Smiles

Teaching my children to question authority, except mine.

T’was the Night Before Christmas


Those of you who’ve been reading here for awhile know I lost my Dad. It has been 5 years this month. I miss him. I hate that my girls never got to know him and vice versa. I try not to dwell because I’ve got it stuffed in a dark corner of my brain and it leaves me alone most of the time as long as I don’t poke it with a stick. Christmas Eve is one of those times I poke it. I tell this story most years on Christmas Eve but it is my blog and as a result I can indulge myself that way.

My dad and I had a complicated relationship through the years for a variety of reasons. None of those things are fit for blog fodder. The important thing is the last years were good. But through all of the years, difficult or not, we had 1 tradition. He read me T’was the Night Before Christmas (the original by Clement Moore) every year. I was a kid of divorce so some years it was done over the phone. Other years in person. As I got older, I kept it up for him. At some point, it flip flopped and became for me again. Although he sometimes grumbled about digging out the book I think he loved the tradition too. I listened to that poem from some strange places over the years. Once a bar bathroom, once a front porch of a party, many times from work. It didn’t matter where I was, I made sure to get in touch with my dad so he could read me the poem before we turned in for the night. Since Dad died, it has fallen to me to read this story to my children. I had always hoped it would be him. I rarely make it through with dry eyes which confuses my girls. And my vehemence about being the once to read it confuses my in laws a bit. For now, I do it for me. And for Dad. I hope in the future my girls come to love it and I do it for them too.

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 lustre 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
6 Comments to

“T’was the Night Before Christmas”

  1. On December 24th, 2011 at 2:08 pm Alleen Says:

    I tear up every time you tell this story…. Merry Christmas!

  2. On December 24th, 2011 at 9:59 pm Andrea Says:

    Five years?? Wow. I’ve “heard’ this story for many years and it gets me every time.

  3. On December 24th, 2011 at 10:25 pm Jane Says:

    I can’t believe its been 5 years either. I get a little misty every year when I read this, too. Bet your girls remember the book and how YOU read it to them every year, too.

  4. On December 26th, 2011 at 3:45 pm Melany Says:

    Hugs to you. I love that you have this special memory and tradition from your dad.

  5. On January 4th, 2012 at 8:13 pm Bobbi Says:

    This post left me in tears. Great tradition, and we too read it to the kids all together in bed on Christmas Eve. However, ours is the Jan Brett version…..but it’s a tradition, right 🙂

  6. On February 1st, 2012 at 7:13 pm Abuela Says:

    I know and understand how much this tradition meant to you. I am so sorry…and I must admit I am crying. He was a very special and unique man on many levels – and I am so glad that you have this very special memory.