“It Never Hurts to Smile” by Mike Rosen

“A Visit to St. Nicholas”
(with apologies to Clement Clarke Moore)

(This poem was delivered at the SUUS holiday gathering this past Sunday, and is presented for those who weren’t able to be part of the event, as well as for those who requested seeing it again.)

‘Twas the night before Christmas and in the North Pole,
Santa played solitaire while munching popcorn from a bowl.
He had just placed a red eight on a black three,
when in walked an elf (looking most sheepishly).

“Excuse me, boss,” said the elf, whose name was Freddy,
“But the sleigh is all loaded and the reindeer are ready.
Your sack is filled with wondrous things.
Like Xboxes, iPhones, and even engagement rings.
Crayons and software and sweet treats galore,
software and dolls, and oh, so much more.
Time’s running out and I hate to be abrupt,
but to get them all delivered, you’ve got to get off your butt!
The children are waiting, the adults are too,
for your annual pilgrimage to bring them their due.
So why do you sit there just looking so mad,
playing solitaire, and cheating, I might add?”

Then Santa turned and the elf felt a shiver.
For Santa’s eyes were tearing and his lips started to quiver.
”Is it that time again?“ he asked with a sigh,
“And must I take the sled? I just hate to fly.
“Why, the way things are going in the world today
I’ll likely get hijacked over Biscayne Bay.
Or, worse, accidentally land in the Mississippi River
And be covered with toxic waste, just the thought makes me shiver.
And even if I make the trip uncontested,
there are all of those ingrates with souls untested.

“You know who I mean: All those corporate giants,
Mom and Pop grocers, students, and tyrants.
All of the famous and common folk
whose perverseness of Christmas makes me want to choke.
With their “Buy me that, “and “Gimmee this,”
they’ve no clear idea what the day really is.

“And explain to me Freddy (that is, if you’re able),
in the spirit of Christmas why don’t they invite to their table,
some unfortunate person in dire need of food,
To not help the needy, now that’s really rude!
No, instead they will all be obsessed with giving
gifts to those who have enough reason for living.
Much better it would be for them to give
to those who hunger and have no place to live.
To give to those whose hearts are filled with pain.
To give to those for whom life’s such a strain.
To give to those who just need a shoulder,
why, there’s no undertaking that is in any way nobler.

“But, no, they’ll insist upon helping themselves
to all that they’ll find on their local store shelves.
And to Amazon they’ll only go to buy and not see
another living person, just a computer screen.
They’ll buy enormous TVs made by companies like Sony,
Samsung, Hitatchi, and all of the phonies.
Exotic foods not meant for the fainthearted,
and meaningless knickknacks — don’t dare get me started!
No, my old friend, I’ll not fly tonight.
Please don’t even try to protest, you know that I’m right!”

That’s when Freddy the elf gave a sigh of frustration
and simply asked, “Have you considered the litigation?
For if you persist in the action you’ve stated,
be certain you’ll be sued, defamed, and quite hated.
I know life isn’t fair, yes, it is incredibly hard,
but you can’t fight city hall, and can’t beat MasterCard.

“The reasons you give are, of course, quite valid.
I know the world is full of the greedy and the squalid.
But, what of the others, whose hearts are much cleaner,
and whose actions and lifestyles accentuate such demeanor?
Whether Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, or Jew
(why, I’ll even throw in a Unitarian Universalist or two),
There are those who try as best as they’re able
to provide for those who have less on their table.
To help provide shelter for those who have none.”
“I get the message,” said Santa, “Now are you done?”

“Not yet,” replied Freddy, “For I need to mention
those for whom life is a clear dedication
To the higher ideals, to the teaching of our young.
To the researchers in medicine whose lives are unsung.
To those who help others with severe mental strain
to realize life needn’t be flushed down the drain.
To those who fight for equality for all,
and to those who never give up; they’re the noblest of all.
Consider each one and hear what I say:
Their number’s not small, and grows larger each day.”

“I think, “Santa said, as he rose from his seat,
“That I’d better get moving – I’ve a deadline to keep.
Now don’t get me wrong, for I will still despair
as I fly through the night in the cold, winter air,
over aid to the despots, and global starvation,
over the homeless and friendless, and that damned discrimination.
But I’ll also remember those who are much more giving,
those whose lives bring good meaning to living.
I’ll remember that for them this season means more
than presents, shiny tinsel, and wreaths on the door.
I thank you, dear friend, and now I must go.
If you’ll excuse me, Freddy, I’ll now brave the snow.”

And as Santa got in his sleigh and took off,
Freddy watched him leave, and as the sleigh climbed aloft,
the little elf thought of all that had been said.
Then he turned toward the house and bowed his head.
He considered his life and all that he had:
Good family and friends, food, shelter, and a job not so bad.
For there were so many others with so much less.
And though the world surely seemed to be a big mess,
he turned around slowly and faced the sky.
And after a brief pause he spoke with a sigh.
“To try to help others, for me it’s just right.
Season’s greeting to all; keep up the good fight!”

(The SUUS e-newsletter will be putting up its feet next week. Let me then take this opportunity to wish all of you and yours a Happy and Healthy New Year. I’m hopeful that we’ll all be together again—and not just virtually—very, very soon. Until then, stay safe and keep up the good fight.)

This week’s Street Advertising Smiles (three this week!):

Scroll to Top