Seth Brown: "The Day Before Christmas*"


*with apologies to Clement Clarke Moore

'Twas the day before Christmas, and all through the Shire,

The people were dressed in their gaudy attire.

The sweaters from grandma they'd wanted to ditch,

Were now celebrated as ironic kitsch.

The town was festooned with such colorful lights,

That I couldn't go outside for it all was too bright.

So I stayed at home in my standard plaid flannel,

And watched random stuff from the Comedy Channel,

When out from the street there arose a great noise;

I presumed it was just the young neighborhood boys,

Whose cacophonous calls and incessant loud yells

Are enough to make Dante nostalgic for hell.

But this time, 'twas two adults (and I use the term loosely),

Who were locked in combat (but more verbal, less Bruce Lee).

"Happy Holidays!", said one, "And please don't dismiss this!"

"Balderdash!", said the other, "Just say Merry Christmas!"

"Well how rude," said the first, "you're too stuck in your ways,

To acknowledge that winter has more holidays,

Even if you yourself don't care to celebrate them,

That's no reason you ought to ignore them and hate them!

"There's Chanukah, Kwanzaa,

Three Kings Day, and Solstice!

There's Ramadan, Festivus,

Yes, even Christmas!

Omisoka, St. Lucia's ...

There's a whole sprawl!

So Celebrate! Celebrate!

Celebrate all!"

Like dry leaves that turn red as they're kindled to flame,

Did the second man crackle and burst to exclaim,

"Celebrate all that nonsense? You're mad as a hatter!

Christmas is the holiday that really matters!

"As Springfield's City Councilor last week recited

At the Hanukkah show to which he'd been invited,

'Jesus is the reason for the season, my friends,'

So just say Merry Christmas, and that's where it ends."

And then, in a twinkling, I saw in the street,

A Middle Eastern man, in a robe and bare feet.

His beard was resplendent! His smile contagious!

His long hair in a style that some might call outrageous!

He looked at both people and then shook his head,

As he stepped in between them and suddenly said,

"This fight that you're having is really a bummer!

Winter's rough. I'm just glad I was born in the summer.

"I don't celebrate Christmas, as I am a Jew,

But let me explain one Christmas fact to you:

Most seasonal reasons predate it, my son,

Because there are many, and not only one.

" 'May your Christmas be Merry,' " that's the greeting that you did,

But 'Happy Holidays' has that greeting included,

So if someone says 'Happy Holidays' to you,

Then thank them, since Christmas is a holiday too!

"To get angry at that phrase would be a mistake,

It would be like, if someone gave everyone cake,

And you said, 'Stop this cake-giving! This cannot be!

You gave cake to these people who aren't like me!'

"Would you pout at your cake? Would you act all annoyed?

Would to try to see all other slices destroyed?

Guard the cake for yourself and let no one else near it?

That certainly doesn't sound like Christmas spirit!

"There's no reason that you should get angry and go nuts,

It's not like your church was razed for a Dunkin' Donuts.

So enjoy that more inclusive well-wishing phrase,

And to everyone, have a Happy Holidays!"

Seth Brown is an award-winning humor columnist, author of "From God To Verse," and is eating Chinese food. His website is


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