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Silver Threads: A Christmas poem for the ages

T’was the night before Christmas, and all through our house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even my spouse.

Our dachshund was nestled all snug in her bed,
While visions of turkey scraps danced in her head.

The living room was strewn with gift boxes and crushed lids,
No stockings were hung; St. Nick was for kids.

Our big family had been there — for gumbo and gifts —
We were taking a break ‘tween holiday shifts.

Dad in his PJs and I in nightgown,
Had just pulled up the covers and at last settled down,

When out in the night there arose a small clatter,
And I drew back the curtain to see what was the matter.

The streetlights were shining on our yard just below,
But what exactly had roused me I could not yet know.

I crept down the stairs and turned to the right,
And there in the gloom saw a surprising sight.

A tiny old man, dressed in blue, with white hair,
Sat quietly — as though waiting — in my favorite chair.

“Hello,” he said brightly, as I edged into sight,
“I’ve been hoping to see you this Christmas eve night.”

“Scuse me,” I said hotly, and I grabbed my cell phone,
“Shall I call 9-1-1? Will you just get yourself gone!”

“I mean you no harm,” he said with a smile.
“I’m Christmas Present; I’d like to talk for a while.”

“You must be kidding ,” I returned in a roar,
“You’ve taken me to Dickens and I was in Clement Moore!”

“But I’ve been watching you closely and have reason to know
That you mourn Christmas Past, and you’re missing the glow

“Of things that are good now, and have been for you,
Through 77 Christmases; that’s more than a few.”

He did get me to thinking, this weird little man,
And he got me to wondering how I’d deserved such a span,

Such a bounty of blessings, such long days in the sun,
When others had little — and some of them none.

He moved to the sofa, patted a place with a smile
And begged me to sit there and listen awhile.

“Christmas Present lives in each moment, a good thing to do,
I’m happy right NOW, how about you?”

Then he said, ‘cause he hoped I’d be getting it at last,
“You can’t see Christmas Future; you can’t bring back Christmas Past!”

That’s true, I thought sadly, but I’ve more than a few
Things to be thankful for, and here’s what I’ll do,

Make everyone glad to see me each day,
Make everyone happy I traveled their way.

“By George she’s got it; I think she’s got it!” and he gave a hurrah.
I said, “You’ve wrenched me from Dickens into George Bernard Shaw!”

He giggled and floated — yes, that’s how he went
Right up to the ceiling and through an air vent.

And I heard him exclaim as he disappeared from my sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

Bettye Anding is a former editor of the Living section of The Times Picayune, for which she wrote “Silver Threads” until her retirement. Email comments to her at


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