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Night Before Christmas

                              For Readers in their 23rd Year of Schooling



      '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 cerebra.  My conjugal partner and I, attired
 in our  nocturnal  cranial  coverings,  were  about  to  take  slumbrous
 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
 the fenestration, noting thereupon that the  lunar  brilliance  without,
 reflected   as   it   was   on  the  surface  of  a  recent  crystalline
 aqueous precipitation, might be said to rival that of the solar meridian
 itself --  thus  permitting  my  incredulous optical sensor to peruse  a
 miniature   airborne  runnered   conveyance   drawn   by   an  octet  of
 diminutive  specimens   of the genus Rangifer, piloted by  a  miniscule,
 aged chauffeur so ebullient and nimble that it became instantly apparent
 to  me  that   he was  indeed  our   anticipated   caller.     With  his
 undulate  motive  power traveling 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 ebon
 residue from the oxidations 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 molar regions and nasal aptenance
 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 hirsuite facial  adornment  appeared  like  small,  tabular  and
 columnar crystals of frozen water.
 
      Clenched  firmly between his incisors was a smokingpiece whose gray
 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.
 
      Without utterance and  with  dispatch,  he  commenced  filling  the
 aforementioned  hosiery  with 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
 affected 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
 yuletides   to   the  planetary  constituence,  and  to  that  self-same
 assemblage  my  sincerest  wishes  for  a  salubriously  beneficial  and
 gratifyingly pleasurable period between sunset and dawn."






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