Twas the night before Christmas, I sat with my pipe,
The hearth log was burning, I had not a gripe.
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.
My sweet wife was sleeping, yet I was awake,
I pondered my plan as I rubbed out a flake.
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my chair 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 tiny reindeer.
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
With his pipe clenched alit, it must be St Nick.
I’d hoped while I sat of inviting him in,
For a bowl, and a chat, and a wee splash of gin!
To smoke with St Nicholas when Christmas comes ‘round,
Was a pipe dream I feared, but a pipe dream profound.
More rapid than eagles his reindeer 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 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 reindeer 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 put down my pipe, 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 beard, like my own, sported ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.
Some pipe smoke curled ‘round him like clouds on a peak,
“It’s a fellow pipe-smoker!” St. Nicholas did speak.
“Have you any Virginias by Ratray or by Pease?
I’ll sit here awhile, and we’ll smoke, if you please.”
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 clay tavern pipe held tight in his teeth,
Issued smoke that encircled his head like a wreath.
He pulled out some matches and tamped his tobacco,
“I haven’t relit since I sat down in Krakow.”
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.
We shared a few tales, then I helped with his work,
We filled up the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
My wife had appeared at the foot of the stairs,
“You’re smoking indoors!” she abruptly declared.
My guilt overcame me. St Nicholas blushed.
I stammered and stuttered. “I’m sorry,” I gushed.
He picked up his pipe, then tickled 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 pipe!”