A few years back I wrote my own version of A Visit from St Nicholas (the ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ story).
I’ve given it a slight revamp (the writer’s curse – never being quite happy with a piece), but now I’ve got my own little daughter to read stories to on Christmas Eve night, I hope this one will make an appearance for many years to come.
‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (A Visit from Miss Nicola)
‘Twas the night before Christmas, but no quiet for us,
As we join two children causing all kinds of a fuss.
It was time for their bed, and Father begged and pleaded,
Before thinking “I know, a story’s what’s needed!”
But when Daddy told them, they started to wail,
They were having far too much fun for a boring old tale.
“We want to play, why should we listen to you?”
“Because this story,” said Daddy, “is 100% true.”
“Once upon a time,” he started, for that’s how stories begin,
“At the North Pole live a man with all of his kin.
But it’s not Santa we join, but someone much fickler
For this is the tale of his daughter, Nicola”.
Nicola used Christmas to get lots of things.
Each year she’d just ask ‘Where are my French hens? My rings?’
This was so unlike Santa, he wasn’t sure what to do,
How can you connect with someone so unlike you?
So one night he told Nicola of the nicest of boys.
Who never asked for gifts – not chocolate, not toys.
Every Christmas his letter would have the same end,
‘I don’t want any presents, but I’d love a new friend’.
Now Nicola was confused at this young boy’s poor taste,
How could he let Christmas go to such waste?
So she said to her father ‘I must meet this poor soul,
To show him his choice is worse than even just coal!’.
Her father agreed that, on Christmas Eve night,
Young Nicola could join his most important sleigh flight.
She had until midnight, but leaving could not be delayed,
For when the clock struck twelve, the sleigh’s power would fade.
So the night did arrive, and Santa’s word held true.
They loaded the sleigh, and to the boy’s house they flew.
When Santa appeared the boy leapt from his bed,
honoured and amazed that his letter had been read.
‘Santa brought me a friend, my wish has come true!’
‘I’m not here because you asked,’ said Nicola, ‘I wanted to meet you”
But the boy, he just smiled (as he did rather often)
And soon Nicola found her heart start to soften.
The boy shared his stocking, and cookies galore
Plus an array of jokes that made Nicola guffaw.
She in turn shared tales of wonder and delight
And showed off her magic by conjuring a light.
She hadn’t even noticed as she laughed again and again,
That she’d stopped thinking of him as ‘boy’, and started thinking of him as ‘friend’.
‘Are you sure there’s no present we could make appear?’
‘Nothing at all,’ he replied, ‘except… seeing you next year?’
She agreed to the promise without any delay,
and continued to laugh until they heard Santa’s sleigh.
As her father arrived, Nicola could barely believe,
How was it already time for her to leave?
Next morning Nicola awoke, but thought not of her gifts,
She thought of her family, and the boy she now missed.
She made then a vow, a promise to be kinder,
And leave her more greedy days safely behind her.
When the full year had passed, Nicola flew once again,
To spend another festive night with her now closest friend.
When Nicola appeared, the boy’s face lit up like a light,
At the idea of another magical Christmas Eve night.
Soon it was tradition – an annual Christmas meeting,
And each year their time together felt all too fleeting.
In fact, ten years passed, each one filled with glee
Just two friends, sharing stories, by the light of the tree.
Nicola asked ‘Is there no gift you’d like next year?
Something big? Something small? Even extravagant or dear?’
‘If I’m honest,’ he answered, ‘my one and only wish,
Is that next year you choose me a personal gift’.
Next year Nicola arrived – and brought with her a plan.
As they’d grown from girl and boy, into woman and man.
‘What gift bring you this time, oh pray tell me this?’
So she gave him the most magical gift – the gift of her kiss.
When her father returned, Nicola said she would stay.
And Santa’s reaction was one of shock and dismay.
‘Your magic will fade if you don’t return home,
Would you give it all up for this man, and a life yet unknown?’
‘The unknown doesn’t scare me, and I hope that you’ll see,
It’s not him I’m doing it for, I do it for me.
I’d give it all up, the power and wealth,
To have him beside me, in sickness and health.’
And Santa looked down with a tear in his eye,
Remembering his daughter from Christmases gone by.
‘I see you speak truth, and it makes me so glad,
That your heart now truly wants something free to be had’.
In time there was a wedding, and a baby or two,
And with each passing year the couple’s love only grew.
And without fail every Christmas, a visit from Santa
(But of course the kids only knew him only as Grandpa).
That’s the end of our story, but not of their life,
As together they made the happiest husband and wife.
A life full of love, and happiness, and laughter,
And always together, they lived happily ever after.
As the story was over, Daddy said “Right, time for bed!”
But his smart little daughter had a question instead.
“You said it was a true story, so I’m rather confused.
Did you lie to us, Daddy?” the daughter accused.
Their father just laughed, “Christmas Eve is a magical time,
Right up until the midnight bells start to chime.
Even after giving up magic, each Christmas Eve night,
Nicola had just enough strength to conjure that light.”
And then out of nowhere, with a wave and a flare,
their mother made fairy lights that danced in the air!
The children’s jaws dropped and they looked at each other.
But, it couldn’t be… was Nicola their mother?
“Now get you to bed,” said Mother with deep-belly giggle
As the lights she had conjured started to dance and to wriggle.
“You need your sleep, and I don’t want a fight,
For Grandfather Christmas won’t come if you’re up all night!”