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Boomer's Journal - An Ode to Christmas

By Rachel Barduson

I love T’was the Night Before Christmas. It’s a family favorite that is probably every family’s favorite. I know at least the first twelve lines without pause, after that, well, I have to refer to “the book.” I never tire of this old classic part of Christmas.

This classic Christmas book was always a popular selection during the holidays growing up. Contributed photo

“A classic part of Christmas” is what this poem is. I’d like to share a little history about the famed poet, Clement Clarke Moore, and his most famous poem. “Originally titled, ‘A Visit,’ also titled ‘A Visit from St. Nicholas,’ the poem was first published anonymously on December 23, 1823, in a Troy, New York newspaper called The Sentinel. It wasn’t until 1837 that Clement Clarke Moore accepted credit for writing ‘A Visit.’ He reportedly wanted to keep his authorship secret initially because he was a professor and the piece wasn’t considered a scholarly work at the time of its initial writing. Moore is said to have based his vision of Santa Claus on both St. Nicholas and a local Dutch handyman where he lived in New York. Legend has it that the handyman operated the sleigh that took Moore home.”

The poem has been called “arguably the best-known verses ever written by an American.” Moore was born on July 15, 1779, in New York City, and is largely responsible for some of the conceptions of Santa Claus from the mid-nineteenth century to today. It has had a massive effect on the history of Christmas gift-giving. Before the poem gained wide popularity, American ideas had varied considerably about Saint Nicholas and other Christmastide visitors. A Visit from St. Nicholas eventually was set to music and has been recorded by many artists.

Uncle Maurice, Aunt Eva and my cousins, Christmas 1966 at our house. Contributed photo

I don’t claim to be a poet. I decided, however, to have some fun and try my hand (and pen) with my own rendition (or lack there-of) of Moore’s T’was the Night Before Christmas. I tried to stay in the rhythm and rhyme of Moore, but my rendition of this classic isn’t solely about Santa Claus, or St. Nicholas, a visit from him, or even essentially about the night before Christmas. Instead, I am having a little fun, with a twist of even and uneven rhyme, to share childhood memories of Christmas’ past; a poem about parts of our Christmas preparation and combined childhood Christmases. Bear with me.

Oh, and...Merry Christmas!

An Ode to Christmas

By Rachel Barduson

T’was four weeks until Christmas

and the magic began

Mother said it was time to go up

in the attic again.

We stepped atop the kitchen stool...

set on top of the sewing machine table

And climbed up to the attic door in the ceiling,

to begin this intriguing fable.

We pulled ourselves up

and into the cold and the dark.

No heat up there. But we were

as a happy as a lark.

Flashlight in hand, we saw a wonderland

of things scattered about

As we balanced on the rafters

with an occasional shout;

Careful not to fall through the ceiling seams,

Balancing and giggling with gleeful screams

We discover the battered boxes

of ornaments and things,

Last year’s same shiny balls

and the tangled Christmas light strings.

The lights and the ornaments

loosely packed in old boxes

We hunted down what we wanted,

like eager young foxes.

We handed things down

through the hole

from above,

To mother’s waiting arms,

she gave us direction with love.

The Norway Pine Christmas tree

was all ready and standing,

Dad had done his part;

it was in the living room,

cleared for the landing.

We hung each ornament,

added the tinsel of yore

Every ball, every string of tinsel

had been used before.

The tree was complete and

now we are ready,

But wait! Still lots to do in the kitchen...

slow and steady.

Three weeks before Christmas,

Mom says it’s time to bake spritz;

Next, lefse, next fudge!

Next, fattigman, sugar cookies, rosettes.

One thing for sure: mom and Valerie

will make krumkake into the night.

After our bedtime...when there

would be no interference or kid in sight.

But wait! Marcia and I sneak out of bed

and peak through the door,

Only to be discovered by our

silly giggling as we lay on the floor.

Mom and Valerie smiled;

we each had a piece of the delicious delight,

Before we were led back to our room,

this time, for the rest of the night.

Two weeks before Christmas,

more holiday baking and tasks abound;

Write and address cards. Shop. Wrap,

attend programs all around.

One week before Christmas

and all through the barn

All the creatures are stirring,

yet doing no harm.

The straw is all fresh in each cow’s stall,

In hopes that a cozy sleep could be had by all.

T’was the night of Christmas Eve,

barn chores were about to start

When the Erdahl Church bell rang at 5,

tugging the strings of our heart.

Mom and dad were done with milking

and in the house before 8.

Even with a holiday dinner,

the cows would dictate.

An annual tradition with my cousins

and lasting for hours;

Rotating. Next year at their house,

but this year at ours.

The Christmas story was read

from Luke Chapter 2: 1-20;

Lutefisk, meatballs, potatoes,

trimmings aplenty.

Santa would come, but one dad

disappeared when he came;

Little did we know one dad and Santa

were one and the same?

One year I cried and wrapped my arms

around my big sister

As Santa bent down, handing me a gift

with a gentle whisper.

I heard nothing at all but I remember it well

Soon Santa was gone with

a swift reindeer bell.

Now more singing, gifts and

bread pudding ‘til we are full

The loud game of PIT: WHEAT! OATS! BEAR or BULL!

As midnight approaches it’s the end

of the Eve celebration,

Christmas Day morning will soon

be here in grand jubilation.

But before that big day,

as my uncle’s family drove out of sight

We managed one more cookie

before they took flight.

T’was the day of Christmas,

with worship at church in Erdahl;

Jesus’ birth in the manger

with glad tidings...

He came for us all.

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