November 25, 2005
'TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS (BATTERIES NOT INCLUDED)
by Tim Bete
'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even my spouse;
With only six hours left, until morning light,
Assembling kids' presents would take me all night.
19,000 pieces -- bolts, washers and screws,
To be put together, and me with no clue;
All I had for tools were some needle-nose pliers,
A Swiss Army Knife and a Phillips screwdriver.
When out on the lawn there arose such a racket,
I threw down my pliers and put on my jacket;
I swung open the door, to check out the noise,
And saw a red-suited man, bringing more toys.
I shouted, "Hey, you on my lawn, what's the idea!"
As my shrubs were being eaten by eight small reindeer;
The big man looked up at me and said with a smile,
"There's more to assemble -- it will take you a while."
"My kids don't need more toys," I countered right quick,
But he wouldn't hear "no," that stubborn Saint Nick;
"These new toys have detailed instructions," he said,
And he winked as he lifted a bag from his sled.
Then he pulled a bunch of woodchips out of his bag,
"It's a dollhouse," he said, as he looked at the tag;
"It has 6,000 small pieces, plus one or two,
You can make it if you have a gallon of glue."
"And, there are no axle holes on this toy car,
With only two wheels it won't go very far;
Perhaps you can whip up some rubber for tires,
I'm sure you can do it before you retire."
"But Nick," I pleaded, "don't you have simple toys?
Can't they build simply things -- those elves you employ?"
"How 'bout a ball, a rag doll or gun that shoots darts,
Or some other present made of only one part?"
Santa said, "Those kinds of toys are passÃ© these days,
It's complicated gadgets that are all the craze;
So, please take these here toys and I'll be on my way,
I have houses to get to and visits to pay."
"I don't want any more toys!" I yelled quite in shock,
Then I slammed the door shut and I secured the lock;
And I took off my coat and went back to my bench,
And tried to read the directions -- printed in French.
Then just as I found I was missing a screw,
That old coot came sneaking right down through my flue;
"You forgot all these toys," said the man dressed in red,
Then he put his sack right down and here's what he said.
"You're not alone staying up all through the night,
Dads all over the world are in the same plight;
They don't have the right tools, or any instructions,
They're eyes are bleary and they're minds don't quite function."
Then he left me there speechless, alone with my work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk;
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle;
But I heard him exclaim, as he jumped in his sleigh,
"You'll need 62 batteries -- all triple A."
Excerpted from In the Beginning...There Were No Diapers by Tim Bete, Â©2005. Used with permission of the publisher, Sorin Books, an imprint of Ave Maria Press. Available at bookstores, online retailers, 800-282-1865 and www.sorinbooks.com. More of Tim's work can be read at www.timbete.com.
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