With understandable apologies to Clement Clarke Moore, here’s my update on his “A Visit from St. Nicholas” for this pandemic Christmas season:
On the night before Christmas in our little house,
The only sound stirring was the click of a mouse.
With me on PC and Mom on her Mac,
We had many kin and friends of whom to keep track.
Columns are opinion content that reflect the views of the writers.
We decorated our house and tree with great care,
Hoping online deliveries soon would get there.
Our son went off to bed in his room,
Proud to have shown us, again, how to use Zoom.
Our son is back home since he found out this fall
That he was not an “essential worker” after all.
Now with smartphone in hand he livestreams and doomscrolls,
‘Til I remind him that “Santa still brings lumps of coal.”
“Doomscrolling,” if you have not heard,
Is a popular pandemic word
For an addiction to more of the web’s bad news
Even as it increasingly gives you the blues.
I went to bed with that thought in my head
And woke up — or so I thought — to the Man in Red.
I knew something was up when, way before dawn,
I heard the sound of livestock on my front lawn.
Could it be “porch pirates,” stealing gifts with great gall.
Not at that hour. They’d find no packages at all.
I clicked my phone’s app in a certain way
And a security camera caught Santa, his reindeer and sleigh.
I grabbed a coat and slippers and ran outside
And Santa just smiled. No reason to hide.
I told him I was glad to see him
Defy the risks of COVID-19
He smiled. “Ho, ho, ho, I’m a jolly old pro
At social distancing.”
Still, he said, “It is a little weird
To put on a mask on top of my beard.
He even apologized for being late,
Blaming confusion at the passport gate.
And he wasn’t that portly, this jolly old elf,
I hardly recognized him in spite of myself.
“Thank you,” he said. “But please keep this quiet.
Mrs. Claus put me on a vegan diet.”
But, alas, there was no time left for chitchat
He had many deliveries to make, no contact.
Then, putting a finger aside of his nose,
Up to our rooftop chimney he rose,
Then somebody texted me — this is the truth —
To say, “Hey, you’ve got a masked man up on your roof.”
But before the cops came at that hour of the night
Santa was done and preparing for flight.
He looked at his watch and asked, “Is it still Thursday?
Even for Santa, I guess every day feels like Blursday.
In quarantine, the days blur together, it seems,
Much like my vision as I woke up from that dream.
Yes, that was a dream but this is real:
Santa’s a symbol of unsung heroes, I feel,
We’ve had a lot of sorrow in this pandemic year,
Losing loved ones and fighting back tears.
We need to thank those who helped ease our fears:
The essential workers who risk so much to offer some cheer
The doctors, nurses, med techs and aides,
The teachers, drivers, clerks, custodians and maids.
For those folks and their families, it’s not much to ask,
That we remember in public to please wear a mask.
And as Santa might shout behind his reindeer,
Merry Christmas to all and a happy New Year!
Clarence Page, a member of the Tribune Editorial Board, blogs at www.chicagotribune.com/pagespage.