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Sunday, December 25, 2016

The "A Visit From St. Nicholas" Story

On this holy Christmas morning, a very Merry Christmas to all my readers, no matter what religious beliefs they may hold. 

 It was an ordinary day.  Talking with our three children about past Christmas memories.  Always comes around to stories about Christmas morning and how they managed to sneak down the stairs right outside our bedroom to peek at the presents around the tree.  Carol and I always told them they had to wait until we called their grandparents, who lived a few houses down the street, and gave them time grab their coffee and arrive before they could head down the stairs to open their presents.  Sounds cruel to many I guess, but my parents loved to watch them open their gifts and I always felt an obligation since I too had restrictions when I was younger as to when I could descend the stairs to open my gifts.  I lived a very sheltered life as a child and always listened to my parents.  Really!  At least until I was a teenager!!  I never once snuck down the stairs to look at my gifts and made sure my younger brother never did either.  So, now I find out thirty years later that my kids had a routine worked out so at least one of the three of them could sneak down the steps while Carol and I slept to check out the gifts.  But hey, they still turned out great even though they were sneaks on Christmas morning.  
Another tradition we had for years was reading Clement C. Moore's poem "Twas the night before Christmas" at some point during the week before Christmas.  You know ... "Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house ..."  Did you also know that it was also known as "A Visit from St. Nicholas" and even just "The Night Before Christmas."  And to top that off, it may not have even been written by Mr. Moore.  The poem was published anonymously in 1823 and Clement finally claimed ownership to the poem in 1837.  It has been said that the poem was actually written by Henry Livingston, Jr. and was published anonymously in the Troy, New York Sentinel newspaper on December 23, 1823.  It was also said to have been sent to the newspaper by a family friend, Miss H. Butler who insisted it's author remain anonymous and therefore no name attached.  Eventually Mr. Moore took ownership to the poem when he included it in one of his books of poems he published in 1844.  It was said that Mr. Moore didn't want to be connected with the unscholarly verse since he was a respected professor.  It was his own children who insisted he include it in one his books books.  Mr. Moore conception of St. Nicholas came from his friend Washington Irving with one exception ... Santa arrived on Christmas Eve rather than on Christmas Day as Mr. Irving had written.  Clement C. Moore's father was Benjamin Moore who was the Bishop of New York who officiated at the inauguration of George Washington.  "The Night Before Christmas", or "Twas The Night Before Christmas", changed the image of St. Nicholas as the patron saint of children to a chubby and plump, jolly old elf.  And, my kids loved the old guy who dropped off their presents and place them under the Christmas tree so they could sneak down during the night and get a head start on their parents.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.   PS - the entire poem follows ... click to enlarge.


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