The night before Christmas was in need of a rewrite...

Don't try this at home

Don't try this at home - Credit: Archant

There’s no need to panic. It will be all right.

Christmas used to be so simple; A selection box, a couple of annuals and some bath cubes. Now you get emailed lists with internet links.

In 1971 a coconut had been top of Lynne’s Christmas wish list. One gaily-wrapped package shouted coconut, mainly because it was hard and coconut-shaped. Lynne was thrilled and, after dad went up the shed and brought back a hammer, she was able to break it open and claim shards of the succulent flesh.

She gave a bit each to her sister, mum, dad and nanna. Suddenly, nanna clutched her jaw and whispered: “Oh no.”

“What is it, nanna?”


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“My teeth. I’ve broken my teeth... I’ve had them since 1948,” she said and a tear rolled down her powdered cheek. Her upper set of early NHS dentures had snapped under the strain of biting into coconut.

Nanna Jeffries always wore a picture hat to bingo. A war widow, she had worked in the Co-op weighing out rations during the war years and she was very much of the waste-not-want-not generation. Her annual Christmas task was to peel the sprouts, which she carried out with forensic attention to detail. If only half a leaf was shrivelled, only half a leaf was discarded.

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It’s all different now... so different that maybe it’s time to revise the famous 1823 Christmas poem The Night Before Christmas.

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

Not a computer was whirring, not even a mouse.

The online shopping had all been done

Though the sprouts and stuffing were barely begun

The children were nestled all snug in their beds

While visions of playstations danced in their heads

And mum in her onesie was faint from the heat

And dad pulled his musical socks on his feet

Then out on the lawn there arose such a clatter

I sprung from the bed to see what was the matter

Had inflatable Santa flown over the privet

Or the LED flashing elf done something illicit?

The moon on the breast (it’s in the original) of the new-fallen snow

Gave the lustre of midday 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,

I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.

More rapid than eagles his reindeer they came

And he whistled and shouted and called them by name

Now Niall, now Louis, Now Liam and Harry

Now you Zayn, on Simon, on Sharon and Gary

St Nick had made the X Factor connection

As his reindeer are named for the band One Direction

It wasn’t my B&Q Christmas array

That I saw through the window, just over the way

But then on to the house-top the reindeer they flew

With a 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.

Or doubtless he would’ve but the truth be told

Our house is not so terribly old

We don’t have a chimney, just a central heating flue

But St Nick, he still managed to worm his way through.

Over the centuries he’s become quite adept

At working out where all the stockings are kept

As if by some magic he appeared by the telly,

With a smile on his face and a great wobbly belly.

He was dressed all in fur from his head to his foot

And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot

He took a short step but then let out a shout

When he fell, having slipped on a peeled Brussels sprout.

Though he knocked over his sherry and squashed his mince pies

He didn’t get flustered nor once lose his poise.

His eyes – how they twinkled! His dimples how merry!

His cheeks were like roses, it must be the sherry.

He spoke not a word but went straight to his work

And filled all the stockings then turned with a jerk.

He waved a goodbye and without further ado

He hoicked up his cloak and was whisked up the flue.

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle

And away they all flew like the down of the thistle.

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight

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

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