The poem "Twas the Night Before Christmas" has become one of the most popular holiday stories around the country for families in America. Each year around the Christmas season, it's tradition to gather around and hear about Santa Claus delivering presents to all the girls and boys on Christmas Eve. Originally known as "A Visit from St. Nicholas," author Clement Clarke Moore really made a massive impact on the future of the holiday season when he anonymously published the Christmas poem in 1823.
The original story takes place in a family's home on Christmas Eve (obviously). The children are in bed asleep "while visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads." With the mother in her kerchief and the father settling down to bed for a "long winter's nap," they hear a commotion on the house-top and the narrator looks out to find St. Nick with "a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer." Though he sees Santa come prancing down the chimney to deliver a bundle of toys, he also sees him fly away at the end of the poem crying with a wink of his eye, "Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!" The story feels so real you can almost hear the pawing of each little reindeer hoof.
Over the years, certain authors decided to take it upon themselves to reinterpret the classic poem by Clement C. Moore. While children know all the reindeer's names -- Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen, there was an opportunity to make it feel more personal. For example, if a child lives in an apartment in New York City, having a chimney St. Nicholas can come down might not make sense. But one of our favorite interpretations is "Texas Night Before Christmas" by James Rice.
The right jolly old elf Santa himself is featured in the Texas interpretation with all the same lustre as the original. But this time, he's being led by a team of longhorns ready to leave gifts inside good boys and girls cowboy boots. It's the same little old driver leading the sleigh (well, wagon) -- the familiar dimples, broad face, little round belly, droll little mouth, and white beard of his chin that we've come to associate with our annual family friend St. Nick.
Here's a description from the back cover to convince you that this is definitely something your family needs during the holiday season:
"On a dark winter's eve in the midst of a fierce storm, a poor Texas family hunkers down in their sod shanty. When what should appear but Santy Claus in a wagon pulled by eight scruffy longhorns whose very colorful names give a hint to their contrary natures. After crash-landing Santa's wagon, the longhorns wreak havoc in this fun Christmas adventure. With a Santy so endearing he could charm the spines off a cactus, Texas Night Before Christmas has touched the hearts of generations and become an annual family tradition."
If you aren't from Texas, consider the Cajun version that adds some Louisiana bayou charm to Santa's Christmas Eve adventure:
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