"Dr Clement C. Moore .... was born in a house near Chelsea Square, New York City, in 1781 ; and he lived there all his life. It was a great big house, with fireplaces in it; - just the house to be living in on Christmas Eve. .... One year he wrote this poem ... to give to his children for a Christmas present. They read it just after they had hung up their stockings before one of the big fireplaces in their house..."
A couple of years ago, when AJ was still a toddler and B was just a dottie, I started to think of how we could as a family make Christmas extra special. Being a mixed-nationality family living in a third country, we have a wealth of traditions and customs to choose from. I was already reading every night to the children, and during Advent I concentrated on the story of Jesus' birth from the Bible. But I felt it might be nice to read something extra-special on such an extra-special evening as Christmas Eve.
I looked around for a suitable edition of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, and after quite a long search lit upon this one. It's the 1912 edition, published by Houghton Miflin in the USA, and, happily, sold in the UK and Europe by Amazon. It's a squareish hardback (they call it library binding), and features the original typography and the charming and very famous illustrations by Jessie Wilcox Smith, which would eventually form the basis of everyone's notion of what Father Christmas actually looks like.
That first year we didn't have the book in time for Christmas. But the following year we did, and just after we hung up the children's stockings we sat down, a glass of cremant in (at least my) hand, to read the poem together. It was a magical moment - AJ's eyes opened wide as he tried to imagine Santa and his sleigh landing on the roof, and he looked carefully at our own fireplace with its roaring fire to check that the rather large old man would indeed be able to enter the house in this fashion.
Why am I telling you all this in early November? Well, if you live in Europe and you'd like this edition of Clement C. Moore's 'Twas the Night Before Christmas before Christmas, order it now, give Amazon plenty of time to get it to you and perhaps your little ones will be shiny-eyed with excitement this Christmas and not next!
Copyright © Louise Bostock 2007, 2008. All rights reserved. Please ask first.
That brings back memories of wartime christmas, all sitting round a kitchen fire, enthralled with the story. Its great to hear that the story is being read to the next generation.
I read it to my son from his first xmas till his sixth, then alas he was "to old". I now know it word for word, so if you need an audio copy....
Very nice post, Louise. One might even call it sweet.
A few years ago I was at a large Christmas dinner in London, and over after-dinner drinks they had a holiday trivia contest which we did as teams. Nearly everybody there was British.
One of the questions was to name Santa's reindeer, and I was the only one who could do it. It turned out there wasn't a single other person there who had ever heard OF the Moore poem.
It's funny the things Americans believe are universal, but which really aren't.
Ohhh, Louise...if I bring some mulled red wine and my own feather pillow and cashmere rug, can i curl up with y'all and listen to 'Twas the Night Before Xmas too?
I adore Christmas and some of my best family memories are associated with this holiday. Maybe that's why "Twas the Night" is one of the poems that i can still recite almost entirely by memory - and always with a smile. :)
We spin a magical storybox of memories and customs during these precious times. That poem was on a poster that had to be pinned in our kitchen every December until it fell apart ... lovely!
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