A Winters Tale: ‘Twas the Nightmare Before Christmas’

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Clement Clarke Moore wrote his famous poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas” in 1823.

I’ll bet most of us know at least some of the words.

“‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.”

As a kid, I loved hearing that poem read to me by my mother.  

Santa’s worldwide journey, with a stop at our house, made Christmas seem all the more magical.

Never would those words have caused me to consider current events, not to mention some global crisis or political upheaval.

It was simply Christmas, a time of innocence.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.”

Today, it seems much of that innocence has been stripped from our children, and we have only ourselves to blame.

I’ve written about the death of fun in our country (no door knocking on Halloween) and the ruining of an all-American ritual (the Gavin Newsom version of a socially distant  Thanksgiving).

Now, I’m afraid poor Santa, a child’s most precious fantasy, is under assault.

Consider this item from the papers in Great Britain, which will surely be part of our own national discussion soon.

The headline read:  Will Santa Be Able to Travel this Christmas?

The article was written to reassure young children who may be on the verge of panic, having watched their parents parading around faces covered, sterilizing the groceries, locking themselves inside. 

I’m afraid the article will have the opposite effect.

Professor Emer Shelley, the dean of faculty of Public Health Medicine at the Royal College of Physicians, said it would be wise to tell our kids: 

“Everybody is asleep when Santa Claus calls, so he’s not going to come across anybody when he travels the world.” 

She stopped short of calling it a “contactless” flight, or worrying that reindeer might also be carriers of the virus.

“Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donner and Blitzen!”

“Secondly,” she writes, “he travels so quickly that even if a part of his entourage were to have the virus attached to them, there’s no risk of transmitting the virus to anybody.

Does she realize what placing these thoughts in the head of a three year old can do?

“As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.”

I’m surprised that the esteemed doctor failed to warn us that Santa might get caught in a chimney, thus placing first responders in jeopardy.

Or that any cookies and milk left on the mantle should be safely presented–cookies individually wrapped, milk in a disposable cup.

“He had a broad face and a little round belly
That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself.”

But most ominously, according to the professor, Santa’s very physical appearance is an issue.

“He would be considered clinically obese,” Dr. Shelley would like the kids to know. “And so if he were to catch COVID, he would be at risk of getting a very serious version 

and being admitted to intensive care.”

How’s that for a nightmare inducing bedtime talk on the night before Christmas?

Isn’t there a better way to keep our kids safe without completely crushing their dreams?

Must this 24 hour a day obsession with all things C extend to the most innocent among us? 

As for me, come Christmas Eve, I plan to be nestled all snug in my bed, while visions of sugar-plums dance in my head.

Certainly not visions of Santa Claus on a ventilator.

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