Lines by Heart: Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore
Head of Learning and Quality at The Reader, Dr. Clare Ellis reads Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore. The theme for our daily readings this month is 'Winter Warmth'. Check out the rest of our readings for December and download the calendar here.
I've just bought my nephew a wonderful illustrated version of this timeless classic and I am hoping that he will have much fun with it over Christmas!
We are often asked for poems that make you smile at The Reader, and I'm afraid I'm not too good at meeting those requests - often finding comfort in literature that is brave enough to shine a light on the darker moments of our lives rather than seeking the tinsel and glitter. But I do make an exception with Twas the Night Before and it does make me smile.
I have read this poem countless times to fellow readers over the years, from babes in arms to older people who may not be able to read any more due to loss of sight or cognitive impairments. This poem never fails to bring a sparkle back.
I wanted to memorise the whole poem for you all but think I slightly underestimated the challenge. So, after a week of thinking about the poem, trying to think of which actions or visual clues might help me to remember the poem, doing voice recordings of it into my phone to play back later, I have just about managed to recall the first 12 lines or so - just pulling up short before Santa goes on to name all of his reindeers!
My favourite lines are still the first two - 'Twas the night before Christmas/ When all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse'. I love the sense of utter quiet and calm in this opening, it makes me want to be in such a moment - everything and everyone seem to be at peace. And yet - I think I also like it because I know what is coming - the magic of Saint Nicholas - Santa - Father Christmas - or whatever name he goes by for you! I love the idea that someone or something out there in the moon lit sky is taking care of me and others whilst I lie asleep, snug as a bug!
I am aware that some people have not grown up with an experience of Christmas. I once read to a young mum who told me that when she had children of her own, that's when Christmas started for her but that she had to learn how to do it by asking other people at first. She had never had Christmas herself as a child you see. She had never heard of Twas the Night Before Christmas.
So, please do share some of this festive cheer and see who far you can get with it - I bet you'll do better than my misquoted 10 lines! And please do let us know!
Happy Holidays Dear Readers!