Merry Day before Christmas everyone! I’m just popping in because I can’t let this day pass without mentioning a remarkable historical note. Did you know that today, Christmas Eve of 2022, marks the bicentennial, or 200 years, since Clement Clarke Moore wrote the world famous poem “The Night Before Christmas”? Little did he know, on Christmas Eve, 1822, as Mr. Moore wrote his poem, which was an early Christmas/bedtime gift for his children that night, that it would become a classic. Maybe even the most well-known poem in the English language? At least among children who speak English? I learned about the date he wrote it by reading aloud the above charming picture book, yesterday during our Christmas Morning (err…evening, since I ran out of time in the morning) Basket time. Then I did the math and realized, hey, it’s been 200 years!
The above book tells some history behind the writing of the poem. I enjoyed the book but was left wondering how much is true. Is it historical fiction? Or is it all true, like the story in the book of him taking a sleigh ride from his home in Chelsea New York to the tip of Manhattan Island to buy another turkey for Christmas Dinner at the Washington Square Market? I just love the map in the book that shows the route. The book tells the story, that as he took the sleigh ride to go shopping, he pondered what he would write to fulfill his promise to his daughter to write something to share with his children that night as a special surprise. In the picture book, he sees images that eventually become part of the poem, like a man in his nightcap looking out a window, a driver of his sleigh, who had ruddy cheeks, and a fat man carrying a sack over his shoulder. Unlike other picture books I’ve enjoyed based in history (like the picture book biographies I love over here), it has no author’s note, or backmatter, at the end of the book, to tell me. I’m so disappointed.
That’s why I’m SOOOOO excited that I got this picture book below from my public library’s interlibrary loan program. As God orchestrated it, I was able to pick it up yesterday, just in time to read it tonight. I requested it a few weeks ago. I’m so grateful it came in Thursday, and I was able to pick it up yesterday, as the library is closed today, on Christmas Eve. Nothing like getting a perfect picture book, about Christmas Eve, that tells of a poem written on Christmas Eve, to read on Christmas Eve, exactly 200 years later! This makes my homeschooling mama’s heart sing!
The book shown below tells the story of how the poem was written, according to the second great-granddaughter of Clement Moore.
Here is what goodreads.com says about it:
“In 1822, Clement Clarke Moore created the classic Christmas poem, ‘The Night Before Christmas,’ for his daughter. Here, in verse and accompanied by over 50 richly detailed illustrations, is the story of the writing of this classic. It is based on the history of the poem as passed down through the generations of the Moore family and told to the author by Dinghy Sharp, the great-great-granddaughter of Clement Moore. Not only does the story of the beautiful and enduring poem’s creation unfold in this tale, but many of the terms and actions of the characters in ‘The Night Before Christmas’ are explained, including why stockings were hung, why windows were shuttered, what coursers were, and what exactly sugarplums that danced through children’s heads really were. Perhaps most moving, is Moore’s motivation and inspiration for the creation of the poem. This lovely edition is a natural companion to ‘The Night Before Christmas,’ which is included in Moore’s own handwriting at the tale’s conclusion. This story is sure to become an equally valued part of the holiday tradition.”
We will read this tonight as part of our Christmas Eve program!
I love that this poem, was a gift of a father to his children. (According to the picture book at the very top, Mr. Moore was kind of like Jim-Bob Duggar. His children were 7, 6, 4, 3, 2, and 1 when he wrote the poem. Whew! His wife must have had a housekeeper!) He wrote it to show his love. This fatherly gift continues to bring so much delight and joy the world over. (I remember my first grade class acting this poem out for parents and friends for a Christmas program. I was bummed I was assigned to be a boring top instead of a glamorous sugar plum fairy.) This gift of a father to his children has inspired countless versions and is a family tradition for many to be read aloud very Christmas Eve. He also paved the way for what most people think of Santa as: a jolly old fat man with reindeer who use a sleigh instead of a wagon. Just goes to show the power of a father’s love and pen.
Merry Christmas everyone! Be sure to watch the Studio C sketch down at the bottom of this post. So funny! It uses Poe’s poem The Raven but shows Santa’s visit on Christmas Eve, which has definitely been shaped by Mr. Moore’s poem.