‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house
Not a creature was stirring but one little mouse.
To the stockings all hung by the chimney with care
It ran and it sniffed and it pooped here and there.
The squirrels were nestled all snug in their beds
As visions of hazelnuts danced through their heads.
While I in the same clothes I wore yesterday
Tried vainly to straighten the vast disarray.
When out on the lawn there arose such a chatter
I stopped doing laundry; now what was the matter?
Away to the window I ran in dismay,
I opened the drapes to peer out at the fray.
The Moon on the grey of the well-trampled snow
Showed clearly the scene that unfolded below.
For what did my wondering eyes then see strewn
But the obvious signs of a wandering raccoon.
With pawprints distinctive and scat in a pile
The stinker had opened the trash can with style.
Less shyly than other nights he’d come before
I now heard him calling, as if keeping score:
“Come Bandit, come Ricky, come Donnie, come Eddie,
Come Lady, come Murphy, come Jessie, come Freddie!
To the top of the fence, to the top of the can,
There’s vittles a’waitin’ – don’t forget dear old Dan!”
As moths to a flame hurry on to the light
Never stopping to rest on their most frenzied flight,
Now up to the top of the fence they all came
With twinkling eyes that belied each one’s name.
And then, in the space of a heartbeat or few,
I heard the one sound every rehabber rues,
As I pulled closed the drapes and prayed it would stop
Down the chimney the bandit fell with a soft plop.
He was covered in soot, from ringtail to jaw
And he wiped his grey mask with an equally grey paw,
He gave a great shake of the fur on his back
Setting up quite a duststorm – alas, and alack!
His eyes, how they twinkled! His nose, how it twitched!
His brain was a’whirring though he looked quite bewitched.
His big beamy mouth moved to fashion a grin,
As if to excuse this unpardonable sin.
His grin grew so wide I could see all his teeth
And the dust in the air cloaked his head like a wreath.
Then he started to laugh and his fat little belly
Quivered and shook like a bowl full of jelly.
He was plump, he was sleek; he was sure not an elf
So I laughed at it all, in spite of my Self.
A wink of his eye and a cock of his head
Reassured me that now there was nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word but I knew his desire,
A nibble or two and a nap by the fire.
Who could resist such a curious delight?
I gave him a cookie, then turned off the light.
At sunrise I wondered; it had been just so queer,
But the words that were scrawled in the soot were quite clear.
I stared as the dawn brought the morning’s first light:
“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”