'Twas the Night Before Christmas...Remix

The original A Visit from St. Nicholas was published anonymously in 1823, and it wasn't for another 14 years that Clement Clarke Moore admitted that he wrote it. A few years ago, I wrote this little take on C.C. Moore's A Visit from St. Nicholas, and I figured I'd share it on the 191st publication anniversary of the original. Even though my newborn is a toddler now, and the puppies are older, not much has changed.

'Twas the Day Before Christmas

‘Twas the day before Christmas, when all thro’ the house,

All the creatures were stirring, even the cat-nip filled mouse;

The laundry was folded in the basket with care,

In hopes that everyone could find something to wear;

My newborn was nestled all snug in his carrier,

With carols playing to make the day merrier.

And I in my PJs, crocheting a cap,

And Dad on the couch in the midst of a nap –

When out on the lawn there arouse such a clatter,

I sprang from the chair to see what was the matter.

Away to the backdoor I flew like a flash,

Tore open the slider and grabbed the treat stash.

The puppies were trodding on three day-old snow,

And were barking like crazy at the poor UPS schmo;

When, what to my wondering ears should appear,

But the highest pitched barks heard all the year.

From two little beagle puppies, so lively and quick,

I knew in a moment we were in quite a predic—ament.

More rapid than eagles their barking it came,

And I whistled, and shouted, and call’d them by name:

“Now! Doc-y, now! Wyatt, now! Stop barking, shut up.

On! Doc-y, on! Wyatt, on! Oh, be a good little pup;

Go back to the porch! Get in to the hall!

Now dash inside! Dash inside! Dash inside all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,

The puppies ran in circles, before they agreed to go inside;

So up the stairs to the back door we all flew,

A freezing cold me and two shivering puppies, too:

And then in a twinkling, I heard in the kitchen,

The sound of a cat who was clearly being bitten.

As I broke up the skirmish and was turning around,

Down the basement stairs the cat went with a bound:

The puppies tried to follow, but were blocked by a door,

So they sat there and whined and barked a tiny bit more;

The sound woke the baby who was asleep on his back,

And he fussed for a second in need of a snack:

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 in a bow,

And his diaper was full of surprises down below.

He bit on his fingers trying to cut teeth,

And his cowlick stuck up around his head like a wreath.

He had a broad face, and a little round belly

That shook when he laugh’d, like a bowl full of jelly:

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly little elf,

And I laughed when I saw him in spite of myself;

A twinkle in his eye and a twist of his head

Soon let me know I had only his diaper to dread.

He spoke not a word, since he only babbles some,

But I know that soon enough full sentences will come.

The stink of the diaper made it up to my nose,

And I picked up my son and in my arms he arose.

The puppies barked again, and I gave them a whistle,

And thro’ the house they all flew, like a puppy-launched missile:

And I had to exclaim, as they bounded out of sight --

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good Christmas Eve night.

Tiny Tim, the Christmas Toad

It was a cold, bleak, biting winter day when he arrived. A heavy fog settled over the land like a woolen cloak, casting the world in perpetual twilight. The snow was heaped up in large drifts, covering hard-packed ground. It was so cold that not even the deepest roots of the tallest trees could escape the chill. In short, it was miserable. The mood was quite the opposite inside the house, where there was a seemingly endless list of things to do: there were packages to wrap and slip under the tree; there were cookies to bake; there were calls to return and letters to write and a number of other seasonal activities that were both exhausting and enjoyable.

It was during this frenzy of activity that Tiny Tim turned up. His appearance was unexpected; he didn't knock on the door or ring the bell. He wasn't even given an invitation. In fact, it was only by chance that he was discovered in the first place.

I had gone down to the basement to fetch the roasting pan for the Christmas turkey and was not prepared to find the tiny toad at the foot of the stairs. He was hardly larger than a pill box, with a brown-green exterior that had me believing he was a leaf until he hopped - yes, hopped- in front of me as if to say, "Hullo, I am here."

I gasped in surprise, for who expects to find a toad in their basement on Christmas Eve?

I blinked.

He blinked.

"How did you get in here?" I asked, not really expecting an answer. He didn't give one. He just stared up at me with his bulbous toady eyes.

"Well, now what?" I scooped him up, roasting pan forgotten, and considered the situation. He couldn't stay in the basement, on the loose, not with a dog and two cats running wild, and it would be no less cruel to set him outside. "I think I'll call you Tiny Tim."

I nestled the amphibian in my palm and carried him upstairs. The animals, having caught the whiff of a snack, came running: first, the dog, with his body wagged by his tail, with such force it was a wonder that the two didn't pull apart; and then the cats, who regarded the situation with a casual disdain.

"Did you find the pan?" my husband called from the kitchen.

"Not exactly," I replied, lifting my hands up to keep Tiny Tim away from the puppy. "I found a toad."

"Was it dead?"

"Not exactly," I said again.

What to do, what to do? I needed to find something to put Tiny Tim in to keep him out of harm's way. I couldn't hold him forever. The best option was the laundry-room sink, and so there he went, down into the basin. He hopped across the bottom until he settled in the drain.


"What are you planning to do with him?" my husband asked.

"I haven't a clue." And that was the truth. "We should feed Tiny Tim. And at least try to make him comfortable."

"You've named him?"

"Of course." He was a Christmas toad. He needed a name.

Later, as we dined on our Christmas Eve fish, Tiny Tim enjoyed a few crickets in the makeshift terrarium I put together for him. It was as comfortable a place as our froggy-friend could hope for on a frigid December night.

*Note: Tiny Tim the toad made his Christmas Eve appearance in 2008. He lived happily in his terrarium until the end of January 2009 and is thought of fondly every December the 24th.

The first line of this post inspired by Charles Dickens.