’Twas the Night before Christmas, 2020

A poem by Jocelyn McWhirter (with apologies to Clement C. Moore)

With the aim of spreading some holiday cheer, Jocelyn McWhirter wrote this poem last month and has generously shared it with NetVUE. “It concerns an essential worker who takes his vocation seriously,” she says. Jocelyn is Stanley S. Kresge Professor of Religious Studies at Albion College. 

’Twas the night before Christmas, two thousand and twenty,

With all of us burdened by troubles aplenty.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care

In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were worried. “Will Santa Claus come?”

“He won’t want to get sick.” “He’ll just shelter at home.”

So that Dad in his bathrobe and I in my gown

Had to sit by their bedsides and settle them down.

“He’s had most of the year to get ready,” we said.

“His sleigh is all packed and the reindeer are fed.

“Christmas Eve is not something that Santa will miss.”

Then we tucked in those kids and we gave them a kiss.

Yet as we looked out on that cold, snowy night,

We both had to wonder if we had been right.

All the travel restrictions gave us a bad feeling.

Had Santa been able to get past New Zealand?

And one billion home visits? Not very wise.

We didn’t dare ask, “What if Santa Claus dies?”

And that’s when we heard it: a noise on the roof!

The prancing and pawing of each reindeer hoof!

As we drew in our heads and were turning around,

Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound!

He was dressed all in white from his head to his foot:

PPE that was tarnished with ashes and soot.

His face was obscured by an N95,

But his smize twinkled, so we knew he was alive.

No stump of a pipe; no spare tire in his pants:

Santa had to stay fit; no more taking a chance.

Plus he had to dodge border patrols on his way;

He could not afford even one two-week delay.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work

And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.

He signed a thumbs-up as he straightened his clothes,

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.

And I heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight,

“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

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