'Twas the Night Before Christmas

     '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 a
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
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 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,
multigenarian 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."

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