For me, one of the silly joys of the Christmas season is finding a new version of Clement Moore’s A Visit From St. Nicholas—or, to be more accurate, one of the many parodies of the famous poem. And now I get to share my joys, and some pre-holiday lesson options, with you.
Last year I enjoyed the Dinosaurs’ Night Before Christmas. The previous year I shared several versions, including some of the many options available online. Who would have thought of a Beatles’ Night Before Christmas (The Magical Mystery Yule!) or any of the several Star Trek versions?
This year I’ve enjoyed two new print parodies. Chet Williamson’s Pennsylvania Dutch Night Before Christmas includes the traditional character of Belsnickel, a crotchety, switch-bearing gift bringer, who arrives in a plow pulled by cows. Actually, he crashes through the roof!
I’ve also enjoyed The Navy’s Night Before Christmas, as will anyone who has Navy connections or just loves ships and planes. Master Chief Claus arrives in a Greyhound (which, in case you didn’t know either, is a type of aircraft) and, with his crew, dispenses gifts and homemade quilts to sailors everywhere. The final message, “Happy Christmas brave sailors, may peace come to all” reminds us that parodies, in all their glorious nonsense, can also speak to the heart.
Of course, one of the grand things about spoofs and parodies is that they offer endless possibilities for innovation. If your school studies include Christmas traditions, perhaps the Pennsylvania Dutch “Night” will inspire you to create a version representing another culture’s holiday traditions.
If not, certainly Moore’s poem, and the many versions adapted from it, offer a fine chance to study spoofs and parodies. This is the chance to write about the night before anything–though it helps to have two syllables. How about the night before finals, or playoffs, or road test (for prospective drivers)? It could be fun to imagine animals the night before snowfall or astronauts the night before blast-off.
I’ll continue my quest for versions of A Visit from St. Nicholas that tickle my funny bone or touch my heart. Perhaps one of them will be written by you, or the young people around you. I hope you’ll share them!
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