When Clement C. Moore wrote A Visit from St. Nicholas — better known as The Night Before Christmas — I’m sure he didn’t mean to lie. I just think he had no idea what he was talking about.
Really, Mr. Moore? “'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse”?
There is always somebody stirring the night before any big occasion, and that person is a woman.
And if a mouse isn’t stirring, it’s because even the mouse is afraid of her.
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You can bet that women in a household are awake and stirring until dawn before major events, including (but not limited to) birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, junior proms, award nights, fundraisers and the acquisition of a new pet; we won’t even bother mentioning Christmas, Hanukkah or any other December celebration because it goes without saying that on those “eves” she’s up until 3 a.m. and on the phone with her sister-in-law begging for folding chairs and a Crock-Pot.
And who, exactly, do you think hung those stockings by the chimney with care, anyhow? Wanna take a wild guess?
Not that I’m bitter.
I take exception to a few other parts of the “The Night Before Christmas,” as well. There’s the idea of describing St. Nick as “a little old driver.”
What, exactly, do we mean by “old”? That’s meant to be old in men years, right?
Because to be old in women years is only to be, approximately, over 26, which means being older than, say, Taylor Swift. Taylor Swift is now being applauded for her “maturity,” which means that producers are searching for the “younger, fresher” version of Taylor Swift because she’s aging out.
In contrast, St. Nick is probably up there in years. He’s probably around the same age as Tony Bennett. And like Tony Bennett, Santa still has groupies.
Then there’s the business of Santa being “all dressed in fur.” Don’t you think Santa would now be wearing a microfiber fleece, with his boots and a belt made of pleather, given all those problems he’s been having with PETA the last few years?
Recently St. Nick and his animal wranglers agreed to allow the reindeer to be entirely free-range, grass-fed and to work in shifts (there were something like six Lassies; you didn’t think there was only one Blizten, did you?).
There have been measurable improvements in working conditions all around, with the elves now earning more than minimum wage, having access to better health care coverage, and having the choice of wearing jeans on casual Fridays instead of being forced into those skimpy, chilly outfits.
One thing hasn’t changed, however, despite all the recent North Pole consciousness concerning wellness: Santa’s smoking. “The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, and the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.”
Somebody get Santa a patch. Get St. Nick some Chantix.
We won’t even talk about his weight issue. Some subjects are just too personal.
Finally, what St. Nick needs is to communicate more effectively. Women who are up all night getting ready for the holiday need more than a stranger who, with “a wink of his eye and a twist of his head,” indicates that we have “nothing to dread.” I know that I’m not putting away the Mace until the guy in the leather belt stops winking.
Only after all that is settled, Mr. Moore, we can honestly shout out “And to all a good night.” Let’s work on it, shall we?
Gina Barreca is a columnist for the Hartford Courant.
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