• Leigh Gerstenberger

Revisiting the Night Before Christmas




According to legend, Clement Clarke Moore wrote his immortal poem, A Visit from St. Nicholas, also known as The Night Before Christmas, for his family on Christmas Eve 1822. He never intended that it be published, but a family friend, Harriet Butler, learned of the poem sometime later from Moore's children. She copied it into her album and submitted it to the editor of the Troy (New York) Sentinel where it made its first appearance in print on December 23, 1823. Soon, the poem began to be reprinted in other newspapers, almanacs and magazines, with the first appearance in The New York Book of Poetry in 1837. It was not until 1844, however, that Moore himself acknowledged authorship in a volume of his poetry entitled Poems, published at the request of his children. Nearly two hundred years later The Night Before Christmas is the most-published, most-read, most-memorized and most-collected poem in all of Christmas literature.

This famous poem has been “hacked” many times over the years. Recently I came the COVID-19 version by Shawna Hickling which I’ve included below.


Twas a month before Christmas, and all through the town, People wore masks, that covered their frown. The frown had begun way back in the spring, When a global pandemic changed everything.

They called it corona, it brought with it fear, It didn't bring good times, it didn't bring cheer. Contagious and deadly, this virus spread fast, Like a wildfire that starts when fueled by gas.

Airplanes were grounded, travel was banned, Borders were closed across air, sea and land. As the world entered lockdown to flatten the curve, The economy halted, and folks lost their verve.

From March to July we rode the first wave, People stayed home, they tried to behave. When summer emerged the lockdown was lifted, But away from caution, many folks drifted.

Now it's November and cases are spiking, Wave two has arrived, much to our disliking. Frontline workers, doctors and nurses, Try to save people, from riding in hearses.

This virus is awful, this Covid-19, There isn't a cure. There is no vaccine. It's true that this year has had sadness a plenty, We'll never forget, the year 2020.

And just 'round the corner - the holiday season, But why be merry? Is there even one reason? To decorate the house and put up the tree, When no one will see it, no-one but me.

But outside my window the snow gently falls, And I think to myself, let's deck the halls! So, I gather the ribbon, the garland and bows, As I play those old carols, my happiness grows.

Christmas ain't cancelled and neither is hope. If we lean on each other, I know we can cope.

- by Shawna Hickling


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