25 December 2007

The Booklover’s Night Before Christmas

’Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the shelves,
Stood volumes of magic and adventure and elves,
Murder and poetry, science and mystery,
Theatrical classics and romance and history.
And in the front room where a woman slept sound
Even more books were scattered around.
The clocks all reached twelve, and up in the sky
An object burst through the clouds up on high,
And resolved as it neared into a sleigh painted red
Which nine antlered reindeer were towing ahead.
A white-haired round figure was perched on the seat
A red hat on his head, and red thongs1 on his feet,
He pulled on the reins and the sleigh wheeled around,
Descending at speed to the house on the ground,
And landed with a crash of hooves upon tin
(Or would have, if magic hadn’t muffled the din).
The driver climbed down and hoisted his sack
From out of the sleigh to his t-shirt-clad back;
The house had no chimney, for in climes like these,
It’s a cold winter’s day when it’s sixteen degrees
So telling the reindeer “I’ll see you guys later,”
He whisked himself in through the roof ventilator
And bounced to a halt on the pink insulation
Before finding the manhole to complete his migration
From rooftop to floor - but what place could this be?
A home, or a warehouse for the council library?
Books on two walls, the sofa, the table,
The benchtop, the floor - but now he was able
To see by the kitchen that people did live here
And would expect the next morning to find Christmas cheer.
He opened his sack and rummaged inside,
A gift for the mother was a cinch to decide -
Some classical music would be just the thing.
But what of the daughter - a twenty-something
With no obvious interest in clothes or in shoes,
Or movies or music - what should he choose?
She apparently - to judge by the looks
Of the rooms she frequented, loved only books;
And had too many of those to need any more -
Especially when January had the Bookfest in store.
An iPod was no kind of present for she -
Not until they put readings out on mp3.
The ultimate book bag? Not quite heaven-sent -
The last thing she needed was further encouragement.
Maybe a holiday was the choice that was best?
Not for her, but her library card; it must need a rest.
Then he thought of the perfect booklover’s treat:
He would see to it that no child in her street
Unwrapped anything noisy upon Christmas Day
So that her reading would not be disturbed by their play.
Christmas would pass in a calm, page-turning whirl -
The perfect gift for this most book-obsessed girl.
Then back to the roof, and back to the sleigh,
Back to the reindeer keen to be up and away...
And if you were awake, his voice you would hear
Ringing out ’cross the suburb as all the reindeer
Galloped off south with Rudolph taking the lead:
“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good read!”

1 Thongs = Australian for flip-flops!


tanabata said...

Very cute! I hope you've had a lovely Christmas. And congratulations on your one year of blogging.

Anonymous said...

I grew up north of Seattle, and we always called them "thongs," too. Which makes my daughter just giggle to death, since thongs - at least in the US - are now a form of underwear.

Loved the poem - I'm linking.

Amat Libris said...

Tanabata: Thank you! I spent most of Christmas finishing the wonderful Doomsday Book and so did have a good time!

Carrie: I thought I should clarify just to make sure no-one got the wrong idea about poor Santa! Thanks for the link.

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Header image shows detail of A Young Girl Reading by Jean-Honoré Fragonard, c. 1776