The Night Before Christmas
(Academically Speaking)

by R. Cole

'Twas the nocturnal segment
of the diurnal period preceding
the annual Yuletide celebration,
and throughout our place of residence,
kinetic activity was not in evidence
among the possessors of this potential,
including that species of domestic rodent
known as Mus Musculus.
Hosiery was meticulously suspended
from the forward edge
of the wood burning caloric apparatus,
pursuant to our
anticipatory pleasure regarding
an imminent visitation
from an eccentric philanthropist
among whose folkloric appellations
is the honorific title of St. Nicholas.

The prepubescent siblings,
comfortably ensconced in their
respective accommodations of repose,
were experiencing
subconscious visual hallucinations of
variegated fruit confections
moving rhythmically
through their cerebrums.
My conjugal partner and I,
attired in our nocturnal head coverings,
were about to take
slumberous advantage
of the hibernal darkness
when upon the avenaceous exterior
portion of the grounds
there ascended
such a cacophony of dissonance
that I felt compelled
to arise with alacrity
from my place of repose
for the purpose of ascertaining
the precise source thereof.

Hastening to the casement,
I forthwith opened
the barriers sealing this fenestration,
noting thereupon that
the lunar brilliance without,
reflected as it was on the surface of
a recent crystalline precipitation,
might be said to rival that
of the solar meridian itself -
thus permitting my incredulous
optical sensory organs
to behold a miniature
airborne runnered conveyance
drawn by eight diminutive
specimens of the genus Rangifer,
piloted by a minuscule,
aged chauffeur
so ebullient and nimble
that it became
instantly apparent to me
that he was indeed
our anticipated caller.
With his ungulate motive power
travelling at what may
possibly have been
more vertiginous velocity
than patriotic alar predators,
he vociferated loudly,
expelled breath musically
through contracted labia,
and addressed each of the octet
by his or her respective cognomen -
"Now Dasher, now Dancer..." et al. -
guiding them to the uppermost
exterior level of our abode,
through which structure
I could readily distinguish
the concatenations of each of the
32 cloven pedal extremities.

As I retracted my cranium
from its erstwhile location,
and was performing
a 180-degree pivot,
our distinguished visitant achieved -
with utmost celerity
and via a downward leap -
entry by way of the smoke passage.
He was clad entirely in animal pelts
soiled by the ebony residue
from oxidation of carboniferous fuels,
which had accumulated
on the walls thereof.
His resemblance to a street vendor
I attributed largely to
the plethora of assorted playthings,
which he bore dorsally
in a commodious cloth receptacle.

His orbs were scintillant
with reflected luminosity,
while his
submaxillary dermal indentations
gave every evidence
of engaging amiability.
The capillaries of his malar regions
and nasal appurtenance
were engorged with blood
which suffused the subcutaneous layers,
the former approximating
the coloration of Albion's floral emblem,
the latter that of the Prunus Avium,
or sweet cherry.
His amusing sub- and supralabials
resembled nothing so much as
a common loop knot,
and their ambient
hirsute facial adornment
appeared like small, tabular
and columnar crystals of frozen water.

Clenched firmly between his incisors
was a smoking piece whose grey fumes,
forming a tenuous ellipse
about his occiput,
were suggestive of
a decorative seasonal circlet of holly.
His visage was wider than it was high,
and when he waxed audibly mirthful,
his corpulent abdominal region
undulated in the manner of
impectinated fruit syrup
in a hemispherical container.
He was, in short,
neither more nor less than
an obese, jocund,
multi-genarian gnome,
the optical perception of whom
rendered me visibly frolicsome
despite every effort
to refrain from so being.
By rapidly lowering
and then elevating one eyelid
and rotating his head
slightly to one side,
he indicated that
trepidation on my part was groundless.

Without utterance and with dispatch,
he commenced filling the
aforementioned appended hosiery
with various of the
aforementioned articles of merchandise
extracted from his
aforementioned previously
dorsally transported cloth receptacle.
Upon completion of this task,
he executed an abrupt about-face,
placed a single manual digit
in lateral juxtaposition
to his olfactory organ,
inclined his cranium forward
in a gesture of leave-taking,
and forthwith effected his egress
by renegotiating (in reverse)
the smoke passage.
He then propelled himself
in a short vector
onto his conveyance,
directed a musical expulsion of air
through his contracted oral sphincter
to the antlered quadrupeds of burden,
and proceeded to soar aloft
in a movement hitherto observable
chiefly among
the seed-bearing portions
of a common weed.
But I overheard
his parting exclamation,
audible immediately prior
to his vehiculation
beyond the limits of visibility:
"Ecstatic Yuletide
to the planetary constituency,
and to that self same assemblage,
my sincerest wishes for a
salubriously beneficial
and gratifyingly pleasurable
period between sunset and dawn."
In other words,

[source unknown]
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