SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK
T ’was the week before Christmas,
and I have to admit:
I wasn’t feeling the spirit;
not one little bit.
The stockings weren’t hung,
I didn’t know where they were!
This weather’s not festive.
It just makes me say “brrr”.
The world’s done crazy,
bad guys in control
and the good guys are lazy,
so we’re left in a hole
that would make the Grinch happy
with his heart way too tiny.
He’d think that this world
would be his kind of shiny.
Now, I’m not a Scrooge,
so don’t be mistaken;
I’ve just been so busy
my spirit was taken.
There hadn’t been time
to put up a tree
and entertain the family
(when it falls on me).
To save electricity
we hadn’t strung lights
to bring us some comfort
on those long winter nights.
My wife, deep in finals
for her last month in school,
and me writing fiction
like a publishing fool.
It seemed the holidays
would miss her and me
and even the dog
(who had wanted a tree).
So one night I came in
cursing the cold
and the ice, and the snow,
and all things in that mold.
But as I reached the door
feeling achy and slow
the oddest thing happened:
I was pelted with snow.
And then, with a curse
that would make Chef Ramsey proud
a man fell off the roof,
and his heavy bulk ploughed
right into the bush
I’d forgotten to trim,
which was now for the best;
or he’d have broken limbs.
He wore a red coat,
now all grungy and stained.
Twigs filled his beard.
His expression, quite pained
showed that his night
hadn’t gone very well.
“No, it hasn’t,” he said,
“In fact, it’s been heck.”
(Hey, he’s Santa. Santa doesn’t cuss.)
“A fighter from China tried to shoot the sleigh down;
The NSA’s bugging my base on the ground.
Over Syria I tracked three SAM missiles, inbound,
and I lost my left boot to a mad basset hound.
“To half the kids, thinking of me makes them sneer,
Alec Baldwin demanded some imported beer.
A hungry hunter took down half my reindeer,
and some ACLU moron tried to ban me, this year.
“My elves lost their insurance to that government goof,
my sleigh fell apart; seems it’s not so rustproof.
My big toe got smashed by Blitzen’s big hoof,
and to top it all off – now I fell off your roof!”
I could see the man’s point;
Things weren’t going so hot.
The way things are going,
he might have been shot
flying over some big city
where people are armed,
and don’t have much pity
for who might be harmed.
And care must be taken
when entering a house
where he might be mistaken
for some burgling louse.
But after a moment he smiled at me.
“It’s not really as bad as I make it to be.
Things always come up that you just can’t foresee,
Like when I got too close to that big honkin’ tree
that you really should trim, don’t you agree?
I wrecked when I swerved; think I fractured my knee.
And the sleigh’s now a wreck – see all the debris?
Think I’ll trade the thing in for a brand new Grand Prix.”
“Are you insane?” I asked him, I thought quite nicely.
“Sorry if I’m seeming a little too feisty,
but you almost got killed, and your sleigh is broke down,
and I think I saw Rudolph on a light pole downtown.”
“Don’t worry about Rudolph,” he said, with a grin.
“He’ll just hang out, relax, and kick back some gin.
I shouldn’t let him drink and lead teams, I suppose –
but how do you think he lights up that red nose?”
“How is this not so bad?” I asked when he paused.
“My insurance won’t cover a wrecked Santa Claus.
And those deer are destroying my roof with their paws.
Don’t you think you were breaking some low flying laws?”
“Don’t fret about that,” He replied with that grin.
I never leave traces – now, where have you been?
Christmas magic will fix this, and also my shin.
so stop being moody – up with that chin!”
“It’s been a rough year,” I tried to explain.
With writing included, I’ve been working two jobs.
Our health has been iffy, and there’s been some pain,
And my wife’s college finals have given her probs.”
(lems. Problems. What do you want from me? I write prose.)
Shaking his head, St. Nick gave me a look.
“You had a bad year? Why, you published a book!
You have a great wife, and a home, and a dog,
and hundreds of followers reading your blog.”
“So you had a bad day! Suck it up now, and think
of the ways in which your life doesn’t stink.
Your family all loves you, and they’re not too bad.
No felons on death row, no deadbeat dad.
You’ve water to drink, and your cupboards are stocked,
and you haven’t been charged by the feds that you’ve mocked.
As for the rest, yes, we sometimes get sad,
but Christmas is more than having and had.
It’s about faith, and caring, and having some hope,
and doing for others, and learning to cope
with the cold, and the snow, and occasional dope.
So be of good cheer, and that kind of trope!”
It’s possible my heart grew three sizes that night.
Well, probably not, but I must say the sight
of St. Nick tooling off in his brand new Grand Prix
Gave me hope for us all … and especially me.
So my wish to you is more of the proof
that I picked up that night when he fell off my roof.
I hope that you see metaphorical dawn –
And don’t have a sleigh mess to clean off of your lawn.