John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton

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Advent 2006: All’s Noel That Ends Noel

All’s Noel That Ends Noel
Or, Incompatibility is the Spice of Christmas

Do you know Mrs. Millard Fillmore Revere?
On her calendar, Christmas comes three hundred sixty-five times a year.
Consider Mrs. Revere’s Christmas spirit; no one can match it—
No, not Tiny Tim or big Bob Cratchit.
Even on December 26th it reveals no rifts;
She is already compiling her list of next year’s gifts.
Her actions during the winter are conscientious and methodical,
Now snipping an advertisement from a newspaper, now clipping a coupon from a
In the spring she is occupied with mail-order catalogues from Racine and Provincetown
     and Richmond and Walla Walla,
Which offer a gallimaufry of gewgaws, gadgets, widgets, jiggers, trinkets, and baubles,
     postpaid for a dollar.
Midsummer evenings find her trudging home from clearance sales, balancing parcel upon
With blithe heart and weary metatarsel.
Soon appear the rolls of garish paper and the spools of gaudy ribbon,
And to describe the decline and fall of Mr. Revere it would take the pen of a Gibbon.
Poor Mr. Revere—such harbingers of Christmas do not brighten him,
They simply frighten him.
He cringes like a timid hobo when a fierce dog raises its hackles at him;
Wherever he steps, ribbons wind around his ankles and paper crackles at him.
He feels himself threatened by Christmas on all fronts;
Shakespeare had Mr. Revere in mind when he wrote, “Cowards die many times before
     their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once.”
These are the progressively ominous hints of impending doom;
First, he is forbidden to open a certain drawer, then a certain closet, and, finally, a
     certain room.
If Mr. Revere looks slightly seedy as he goes his daily rounds,
It’s because his clean shirts and socks are now out of bounds.
Indeed, the only reason he gets by,
He remembers previous years and has provided himself with haberdashery he can drip
     and dry.
The days of September, October, November are like globules of water on the forehead
     of a tortured prisoner dropping;
Each is another day on which he has done no Christmas shopping.
At this point the Devil whispers that if he puts it off until Christmas Eve the shops will
     be emptier,
A thought that which nothing could be temptier,
But Christmas Eve finds him bedridden with a fever of nearly ninety-nine degrees, and
     swaddled in blankets up to his neck,
So on Christmas morn he has nothing for Mrs. Revere but a kiss and a check,
Which somehow works out fine, because she enjoys being kissed
And the check is a great comfort when she sits down on December 26th to compile her
     next year’s list.

Ogden Nash (1902 – 1971)

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas. Mine was very nice, save for the weather, which was chilly and rainy. Like Mrs. Revere, I mostly got kisses and checks, both of which were much appreciated.

Tags: poet's corner

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