Written by Sparky
“‘Twas the night before Christmas,
And all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring,
Not even a mouse.”
I remember my parents telling me that story every year on Christmas Eve, ‘The Night Before Christmas’. My copy of that now lies on my child’s bookcase, ready to pass the tale onto a new generation.
I always wondered though, why a mouse? What makes that specific creature more suited to not stirring than any other? Everyone tells me it was because it rhymed with house and didn’t break the rhythm of the poem. I never liked that though, I was always a dreamer, looking for a greater meaning. Some meaning that raised mice above the station of simply household rodent and pest and gave them purpose.
Everyone always laughed at me; they never understood why I chose to believe that. No matter many times I tried to explain that I wanted to think mice were cooler than they were. I gave up a few years back, they stopped mentioning it and I stopped fighting the corner. It wasn’t so bad I guess, a childish fancy, the endless wondering of the bored mind.
My own child has asked me why a mouse, I told him I didn’t know. I thought about making something up, telling him that a mouse was a magical creature that caused trouble throughout the year. I wouldn’t be entirely wrong I guess. Some mice are troublesome little things, others just stay hidden. It plays into the Christmas message though; even the trouble causers behave themselves on the night before Christmas. Perhaps that was the original meaning behind it, maybe I knew it all along and just never realised how aptly it fitted into the story.
The more I think on it, the better it gets. I decided to write that idea down, so I wouldn’t forget it in the morning. My child decided he liked the idea over breakfast, though how much of that was down to the eagerness in his eyes to rip open the wrapping paper off his presents is something I may never know. It is a nice interpretation, less clinical then simply “because it rhymed”. It appeals the child inside me that the magic of Christmas infects everyone; it can change everyone for just one day of the year.
It amazed me in school when I learnt the Germans and the Allied forces simply took Christmas Day off from fighting in World War I and played football. Even in the darkness and terror of battle, the magic of Christmas is everywhere and no one can say no when the spirit comes calling at your door.
The best bit of Christmas truly is the night before it. The night when the presents are wrapped and put under the tree. When children across the country listen eagerly, covered in their beds for the sound of sleigh bells outside their window and the deep, hearty sound of laughter. Cookies and milk adorn the tables and worktops of houses around the world, ready for Santa to come by and sample them.
I hope one day, my child will have kids of his own and pass on the story of the most magical night of the year. And maybe, just maybe, his children will ask him why the story starts off with a mouse. And if they do… then I hope he is a little quicker than me and he can tell them why. He can tell them that it is because it doesn’t matter who you are, how big or small you are, how badly you may behave the rest of the year. Every 24th of December, everyone around the world behaves themselves because of Christmas. Such is the power of that one magical day.