‘Twas the night before the Holiday Party

Last week, one of my coworkers asked me to write a skit or something for the holiday party. It had to be written quickly, the video crew was coming to film the department the next day, so, if we were going to have something, it had to be done in a few hours. So, I quickly wrote this, mostly over my lunch hour, and then typed it up and did some minor quick polishing, and sent it to my boss.

It got a few chuckles from my department (Human Resources, for a State of Colorado entity), and each member of the department was going to be one of the “people” in this script.

At the very end of the day, I learned from the camera crew that they were not using audio for the film. I’d spent about 3 hours on this, and thought it pretty good, and it was never going to be seen, and had all been something of a wasted effort.

Well, I decided that even though it wasn’t a Word of the Day, it should be seen. Here it is.

Greetings! The HR department thought it would be nice, as our contribution to the annual holiday party, that I would read that timeless classic “Visit from St. Nicholas” for your enjoyment.

Clears throat, and begins

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house


Hold on a second. We can’t say Christmas. It’s far too Christian. Can we change it to “holidays” or something?

But, the poem is about Christmas, there’s no Kawanza/Solstice/Hanukkah in it. And “Twas the night before the holidays? That doesn’t even make sense.

We really should be all inclusive…

Fine. Holidays it is.
‘Twas the night before the HOLIDAYS, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

I probably shouldn’t be saying this, but, well, St. Nicholas is a religious person. Don’t we need to be concerned about the separation of church and state here?

Maybe? I dunno. But, what would you like me to use instead?

Well, how about “Annual Gifting Guy?”

I have no words. (pause) Fine.

Scribbles in BOOK with PEN, making the correction.
“Annual Gifting Guy”

Resumes reading
In hopes that Annual Gifting Guy soon would be there.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap,

Hold it! We have many employees with non-traditional families, and this excludes them. And what about married people with no children? Or single people? This is pretty insensitive.

What do you propose we do?

Well, maybe we need to take out the references to their living arrangement, just to be sure.

(Scribbling a note)
Fine. I’ll take out the stanza, and we’ll skip to the noise outside. OK? Good.
(continuing, frustrated)
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,

I don’t think we should be using that word. It’s pornographic, and someone might feel like we’re fostering a hostile work environment.

What word?
You mean, breast?
What’s wrong with it? It’s perfectly in context.

It makes me uncomfortable. Snow is not supposed to be all… you know… Not, well, compared to a woman’s anatomy.

It’s poetic!
How about “crest” Does that work?
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,

We can’t call him old.


It’s Ageist. How about “chronologically advanced?”

“Chronologically advanced?” that’s 7 syllables. Seven . To replace a one syllable word. Do you even care about meter? Honestly. If we have to change it, we’re just using  “cold” it’s not the same thing, but at least it doesn’t mess with the meter.
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
(stops self, scribbles)
I knew in a moment it must be Sir Gift.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
“Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

(stops self, scribbles)
With the sleigh full of toys, and Annual Gifting Guy too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down the chimney Annual Gifting Guy came with a bound.

I’m pretty that working on the roof with eight reindeer is an OSHA violation. And, even if that’s not, the chimney sure is. If he fell, would it be Worker’s Comp? And who pays?

Santa is NOT going to fall. And, if he does, it’s not our issue. Can we just get through this?

I’m not sure I like your attitude. It’s not much in the holiday spirit

(groans, pauses and continues)
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;

FUR?! That’s ridiculous. And, arriving to his workplace covered in dirt? I *know* that doesn’t comply with the dress code

(eyes the others significantly, but says nothing, then, continues, ignoring the comment)

A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
His eyes — how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!

Does Santa Have a drinking problem we should be worried about? The rosy cheeks and nose are worrisome. That could be an FML issue. We should send him the paperwork.

Santa has not requested any leave time for a problem, which he probably doesn’t have. Rosy cheeks can also just mean that IT’S COLD OUTSIDE. That’s all.

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;

He smokes?  He’s a children’s icon. He can’t smoke. What kind of example does that set?

There won’t be any children at the holiday party. It’s not really our audience…

Parents should be cautioned about this poem. It’s dangerous.

I’ll add a disclaimer. Happy?

He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;

“Elf” is a pretty racially charged word. Can we say “small-statured-American? Or maybe “Vertically Challenged Polar Personnel?”

We’ve changed the poem enough. If there are elves in the audience that get mad, just send them to me.

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,

You know, this would be a good time to review the gift-giving policy. I don’t think stockings are covered under Board Policy, and if he’s gone over the maximum dollar value amount for gifts, it could be an ethics violation…

(as if not hearing the comments)

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, ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Holidays to all, and to all a good-night.”