|The Boy Who Laughed at Santa Claus |
by Ogden Nash
|In Baltimore there lived a boy.|
He wasn't anybody's joy.
Although his name was Jabez Dawes,
His character was full of flaws.
In school he never led his classes,
He hid old ladies' reading glasses,
His mouth was open when he chewed,
And elbows to the table glued.
He stole the milk of hungry kittens,
And walked through doors marked NO ADMITTANCE.
He said he acted thus because
There wasn't any Santa Claus.
Another trick that tickled Jabez
Was crying 'Boo' at little babies.
He brushed his teeth, they said in town,
Sideways instead of up and down.
Yet people pardoned every sin,
And viewed his antics with a grin,
Till they were told by Jabez Dawes,
'There isn't any Santa Claus!'
Deploring how he did behave,
His parents swiftly sought their grave.
They hurried through the portals pearly,
And Jabez left the funeral early.
Like whooping cough, from child to child,
He sped to spread the rumor wild:
'Sure as my name is Jabez Dawes
There isn't any Santa Claus!'
Slunk like a weasel of a marten
Through nursery and kindergarten,
Whispering low to every tot,
'There isn't any, no there's not!'
The children wept all Christmas eve
And Jabez chortled up his sleeve.
No infant dared hang up his stocking
For fear of Jabez' ribald mocking.
He sprawled on his untidy bed,
Fresh malice dancing in his head,
When presently with scalp-a-tingling,
Jabez heard a distant jingling;
He heard the crunch of sleigh and hoof
Crisply alighting on the roof.
What good to rise and bar the door?
A shower of soot was on the floor.
What was beheld by Jabez Dawes?
The fireplace full of Santa Claus!
Then Jabez fell upon his knees
With cries of 'Don't,' and 'Pretty Please.'
He howled, 'I don't know where you read it,
But anyhow, I never said it!'
'Jabez' replied the angry saint,
'It isn't I, it's you that ain't.
Although there is a Santa Claus,
There isn't any Jabez Dawes!'
Said Jabez then with impudent vim,'Oh, yes there is, and I am him!
Your magic don't scare me, it doesn't'
And suddenly he found he wasn't!
From grimy feet to grimy locks,
Jabez became a Jack-in-the-box,
An ugly toy with springs unsprung,
Forever sticking out his tongue.
The neighbors heard his mournful squeal;
They searched for him, but not with zeal.
No trace was found of Jabez Dawes,
Which led to thunderous applause,
And people drank a loving cup
And went and hung their stockings up.
All you who sneer at Santa Claus,
Beware the fate of Jabez Dawes,
The saucy boy who mocked the saint.
Donner and Blitzen licked off his paint.
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,
St. Nicholas too.
Clement Clarke Moore
I'm dreaming of a white Christmas,
Just like the ones I used to know,
Where the tree tops glisten
And children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow...
~ Irving Berlin
that magic blanket that wraps itself about us,
that something so intangible
that it is like a fragrance.
~ Augusta E. Rundel
Traveling the highway below this ecstasy
My heart spirals down as dark prevails.
Eight hours at work resemble twenty
And this lonely trip is really a bitch
But comforts of home will continue to wait
When into Kroger’s I pull for a last minute date.
It’s Christmas Eve and my stockings are bare
Hanging on my fireplace with loving care
Decorations in place, too many cats on the hearth
But when I walk in the celebrations will start.
Flip on the switch and light up the dark
Cold noses greet with meows, purrs and barks
No gifts, no feast, not even a mouse
But the Christmas spirit hangs over this house.
I always want more but usually have less
As I curl up on the couch with six hungry pets
Then off to the kitchen and full bellies for all
And back into the cold for doggie pooh time.
No tea tonight, its hot chocolate with cream
Warm wooly socks and cozy soft flannel
A movie to watch, a very short wait
And the holiday arrives, not a day late.
If Christmas is kept by the dollars in my purse
I’d be first to admit Santa’s forgotten I’m here
But if Christmas is kept by the gifts one receives
Beware of Presents with Tails that Wag
A naughty terrier did as he pleased
left fang holes on both his masters' shoes
barfed last night's dinner on pants tossed on floor
dropped a load of turds by the closet door
Roughed up the cat his mistress loved more
barked at the empty when he was bored
chewed up bed pillows when he was indoors
chewed down lawn decor when he was outdoors
Until in the cat carrier he went
to that dreaded bad dogie dead end place
with his days numbered he put on the charm
in a heartbeat he was chosen...good dog
He traveled to their home cuddled in arms
he snuggled and kissed, that glint in his eyes
he truly believed in Santa that night
then the door opened and there stood a cat
Fed dry kibble he soon fell fast asleep
and they placed his presents beneath the tree
while visions of twenty kitty meatballs
rolled about in his slightly wicked head
They dreamed in their cozy well padded beds
of walking the dog and fetching the ball
they craved perfection with four little paws
but they got Skippy with infinite flaws
As a child, Christmas was magic...pure magic. Five grey and red socks, big socks...dad's sock, were nailed to the mantle of our red brick crepe paper fireplace. Most gifts beneath that tree heavy with the aroma of piney pitch had already been unsealed and resealed before Christmas Eve to see if any printing on the boxes inside would betray their contents. Clever kids back then we were, masters of deception and geniuses of fake surprises; or so we thought.
Our stockings each year would be bulging on Christmas day with chocolates, small toys, and the preverbal navel oranges that were a dead giveaway, mom, not Santa, dictated what was allowed and not allowed in those stretchy feet warmers that almost touched the floor with all that weight of goodness inside.
Christmas morn...after a night of little sleep and before mom and dad rose and shined, we already had sneaked past their bedroom to peek into the living room. The big gift...the real gift from the real Santa was always (almost always) a surprise, and our eyes zeroed in on that plump pinion pine tree straight ahead still dripping pitch to the bed sheet covered floor and presents below to see what it was.
We were unsophisticated little tykes back then compared to today's standards of computerized paraphernalia and brick-a-bract. We could still be pleased by stuff that ran by foot and hand power. The year of the large telescope is the one remembered best now. Dad and we children spent many months searching and viewing the heavens and all they held, and then it was quietly buried in that graveyard of disinterest forevermore.
There are times when I wish to be a child again, to let go of all that has happened between then and now. A nostalgic wish that vaporizes into the vastness of the greatness that's out there; after all, I am what these past years of trials, tribulations, joys and good fortunes has created...a uniqueness of one. I'm always thankful though, that as a child Christmas was magic...always pure magic.
Hush of night and I sit here alone, or as solitary as I can be with a room full of creatures that have finally settled down for a short winter's nap. Lacey's nestled on my lap, Dustin's cozy by my feet, Jamie's hiding on the cat tree, Queen Charlotte's reclined and preening, Austin's toasting on heat pad he's claimed, and Zoe, sweet Zoe...a shadow hidden in the underworld of human beds. All's quiet at the moment in this niche of my world, and the silence awakens the reminiscing of memories I've tucked away in my heart throughout this past year.
Little Travis, just a cat, but he was my cat and that made him special; lost on a cold, rainy night never to be found again...loved and so missed. I always think of you and wonder. Angel faced Andee...car key, eye glass and pen thief in his youth; lover of cuddles, felt mice, squeaky purrs and amazing food in older age. Seventeen years he graced us with his company...we miss him deeply.
My mom, Helen...my grade school home room mother, teacher and adversary at card games Canasta and Gin Rummy, best apple pie chef in the world, canyon hiker and fellow adventurer, instigator of cold fried chicken and potato salad picnics, antiquing partner and rival at the check-out counter, lover of fluffy pink roses and Bing Crosby era singers, an all-around down home country girl at heart. I miss her.
He'd fly to the moon if he could, but instead has settled for Afghanistan and Iraq. Vic is at the BDSC (Baghdad Diplomatic Support Center) next to the Baghdad International Airport. It's been nicknamed Slum Dog Millionaire by those who live and work there. The other compound, the BEC (Baghdad Embassy Compound) is referred to as Downton Abby by those who live and work at the BDSC. Not much else needs to be said. He's my co-conspirator, second-guesser, side seat driver, other half working stiff partner; and I wouldn't have it any other way.
A mother cat with five kittens and one brother move into the garage on a rainy April day; and you either collect them all and ship off to the pound, or embrace the challenge and ride that roller coaster ride for all it's worth. With life as usual not an option, we played with a different set of rules and closed our eyes to all possibilities of defeat, as any spring day is always bulging at the seams with homeless kittens. Two miracles later only three needed adding to our gang; although for an all too brief moment we really were quite content with only two cats :)
At times I felt the drama playing out in my life would unglue me at the seams, but sitting here re-reading this story while sipping a cup of steamy hot Lady Gray tea, life seems so pleasantly peaceful. Another year nears its end and all is as it should be, and what sadness is left will fade with the passage of time. May your home be overflowing with love this Christmas and may the New Year be good to you.