Reader shares his take on Night Before Christmas poem with a COVID-19 spin

Resident Robert Garrison has shared his COVID-19's Novel Night Before Christmas poem with Beach Metro News. Photo: Submitted.

It’s the night before the night before Christmas here in East Toronto, and Beach Metro would like to share this poem that was sent in to us earlier this week.

Victoria Park and Danforth avenue area resident Robert Garrison wrote the poem. It’s a take on the classic A Visit from St. Nicholas by Clement Moore, seen through the lens of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is “viewed through the prism of the effects of the COVID pandemic that is disrupting all of our lives,” said Garrison. “This is a slightly darker version but is a fundamentally light-hearted view of our situation, with a happy ending.”

Garrison, who served as a story editor and writer on the iconic Canadian television show The Littlest Hobo, said he originally started writing this poem for his grandchildren and it grew from there.

“It took on a larger life and I thought it would be fun for readers on Christmas Eve – or anytime for that matter,” said Garrison in his note to Beach Metro News accompanying the poem.

So, without further ado, here is Robert Garrison’s poem:

COVID 19’S NOVEL NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS

T’was the ninth week of lockdown,

and all through the house

We’d sprayed disinfectant,

Even shampoo’d the mouse.

 

The stockings were sterile

and hung up with care,

A box full of gloves made

of latex was there.

 

The children were tossing

and turning in bed

Burnt out from the Zooming

that scrambled their heads.

 

They were morbid, depressed,

pathologically grouchy,

Disbelieving the claims of

the good Doctor Fauci.

 

Was it ‘fake news’ he claimed

about Santa’s immunity

Would he ‘superspread’ Covid

Throughout the community?

They were grim, dazed and sick

of this self-isolation

And their letters reflected

a grim desperation.

 

“If you make it, Dear Santa,

Please bring PPE!

Hydroxy and face-shields

And Vitamin C

 

“And Remdezevir,

Just in case we’re infected —

and spare ventilators,

so we’ll feel protected.”

 

No mention of sugarplums, video games,

And just to be sure, they repeated their names.

 

The wife and I lay in twin beds—

That was new!

And I prayed that the Amazon

truck would get through.

 

While Grandma rocked on

in her chair, catatonic,

Convinced we were in

a pandemic bubonic.

 

It was my job to keep up

the old Christmas spirit.

But only Glen Fiddich

could help me get near it.

 

I shuddered to think

how this long night would end

My breakdown was lurking

just ’round the next bend.

 

With three frantic kids,

I was takin’ a lickin’

And the merciless clock

kept on tockin’ and tickin.’

 

As the wind howled outside

My months-old despair

Was replaced with a suspicion…

that something was there.

 

Then an incident happened

both strange and amazing.

A strobing of light

that was bright, even blazing.

 

I lurched to the window,

threw open the curtain

Was it some kind of spacecraft?

I couldn’t be certain.

 

And what to my wondering

eyes should appear

But a squadron of drones…

that was headed straight here?!

 

Their chuffing propellers

were blowing the snow

Their clearance lights twinkling

in red, green and gold.

 

And the one in their midst

simply blew me away!

It was big! it was red!

It was shaped like a sleigh!

 

They circled the house

as they slowed, treading air

In a cascade of colours

beyond all compare!

 

Then “green light!” came a voice

that rang out through the din.

“10-4,” came another.

“I’m takin’ her in!”

 

Just above me the rafters

creaked ever so slightly

It seemed that a great weight

had just settled lightly.

 

Then I knew that the sleigh-drone

had made a soft landing

Near the chimney, a heartbeat

from where I was standing.

 

Was the sleigh just a ruse,

like the old Trojan horse?

Was my family in danger?

What should be my recourse?

 

I pulled on my slippers

and steeled my courage,

Found a spot on the stairs

to observe this entourage.

 

From the fireplace billowed

black soot in a cloud.

In the chimney the clatter

of hardware was loud.

 

Came a sibilant zipping

as a cable unwound

And then in the dark

I heard boots hit the ground.

 

As the dusty air cleared—

Believe it or not–

I could see the intruder,

a doll-sized robot.

 

Then another, ‘til six

had rappelled to my hearth.

They were dressed up as elves–

jackets, hats and long scarfs.

 

Constructed of metal,

like toys made of sticks

They were mobile and agile

and nimble and quick.

 

Bright smiles on their faces

and LED eyes

That illumined the room

like a rosy sunrise.

 

Some robots stuffed stockings

with parcels they’d brought

Some placed strange devices

in strategic spots.

Small black boxes that had

yellow screens and red dots.

 

My hackles rose up,

I stepped into the light.

 

I cried  “What’s going on!

Get those out of my sight!”

 

A robot stepped forward,

a beam shone from his finger

And he wrote in the air

in a cursive that lingered.

I could read it! It said

“Please don’t worry my friend

You’ll be happy to see

how this story will end.”

 

He took out a remote

and he pressed several keys

The devices lit up,

started humming like bees.

 

Then a cloud of light

particles danced in the air,

Formed a figure!

I started to see Santa there.

 

T’was a digital clone

of the jolly old elf

And I chilled, then I smiled

Quite in spite of myself.

 

But this holograph Santa

didn’t seem quite the same

He looked thinner and tired,

his suit hung on his frame.

 

He smiled at me, laughed

and said “Sir, I can see

You’re wond’ring if something

has happened to me.

 

“Well, it’s been a long year,

COVID has us in thrall

So we’ve worked night and day

to take care of you all.”

 

When I started to speak he said,

“Please, now no talk!

There is much to explain

and I’m fighting the clock.

 

“When I saw the pandemic

would cause  melancholy

I knew that this Christmas

just wouldn’t be jolly.

 

“We’re all missing family,

loved ones and amigos–

WhatsApp, Twitter, and texting

just don’t satisfy egos.

 

“As I scratched my head puzzling

’bout what I could do

In a flash inspiration

I suddenly knew.

 

“So now my own “Santalite”

orbits in space

That’s how I can

be here with you face-to-face.

 

“And our hologram software is

Unprecedented–

A trinary program

my geek-elves invented.

 

“You can transfer your body

to desired destinations

You can talk, you can listen

— enjoy recreation.

 

“And all without fear

of a viral infection

No need to get swabbed

for a Covid detection!

 

“I’m still in my lab now,

running things from the’ Pole

An ‘air -trafficker’ stuck

at my frantic console.

 

“While my robots and drones

do the real heavy lifting,

Encircling the globe

while frenetically gifting.

 

“The system at your house

will stay there with you

The Remote and a clear

User’s Manual too.

 

“But don’t you try to use it,

you won’t have a clue

Just wait for your children—

they know just what to do.

 

“Please don’t even try it,

you have no idea

You might end up in China

or worse, North Korea!”

 

Santa looked at his pocket-watch,

tugged at his beard

“My time’s running out

and the end isn’t near!”

 

He turned to the robots,

a man in great haste,

said “Keep up the good work…

quick, there’s no time to waste.”

 

They ran to the chimney,

up the cable they climbed

All waving goodbye,

as they left me behind.

 

“Now, the holograph’s here

to improve mental health

But your body’s well-being

is your real wealth.

 

“So we’ve made a vaccine

that we’re  leaving with you.

It’s new and it’s tested

and proved tried and true.

 

“It’s a potent vaccine

you apply with a patch.

No need for syringe,

or a spray or a scratch.”

 

“But there’s  one side effect—

we found nothing could stop it.

Its users grow fur on their feet…

like a hobbit.

 

“But it keeps your feet warm,

and amuses your pets

(If your doctor’s away,

you can go to the vet’s!)

 

“And it helps dust the floor

while you’re walking’ around

And if somebody’s sleeping,

it muffles the sound.

 

“The vaccine kills coronas,

and all other flus

(It kills fleas, ticks and lice,

and destroys bedbugs too.)

 

“It lasts but six months—

that’s the main caveat.

We couldn’t do better

in the brief time we had.

 

“But by then the corona

will be fairly rare,

And commercial vaccines,

will be ready and there.

 

“Now this is the end,

I must run, I can’t stay.

We can talk on my website—

it’s up Boxing Day.”

 

He grabbed the remote,

showed me three special keys:

“When I give you the signal,

just press down on these.”

 

Then he nodded his head

and he stroked his long beard.

I pressed the remote than,

and just as I feared,
He was gone in a flash,

Santa just disappeared!

Grandma’s chair started rocking,

and she cried, “What’s  the fuss?”

I said “Santa’s been here,

and he’s been good to us!”

 

“I know son,” she muttered,

“This year’s been frustrating,

But I hasten to say that

you’re hallucinating!”

 

Then the room filled with jingling—

bells out in the night,

And a voice from the boxes

came clear, loud and bright…

 

“I hope in the future

there’ll be Christmases plenty

But none like the Christmas of two-thousand-twenty

 

“Oh, dear me,” moaned Grandma

“Voices back in my head!

I think I’ll just take

my dementia to bed…”

 

I trudged up the stairs

and I slept like a rock

‘Til at my front door

came a furious knock.

 

Leaving just one last thing

that I’d like you to know

The Amazon truck

made it here through the snow! ! !

 

By Robert Garrison (Dec. 21, 2020)


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