Dave Armstrong’s First Six Christmas Poems (1996-2003)

Dave Armstrong’s First Six Christmas Poems (1996-2003) December 22, 2015
Thomas Nast’s drawing, “Merry Old Santa Claus”, from the January 1, 1881 edition of Harper’s Weekly. Nast immortalized Santa Claus’ current look  in an 1863 issue of Harper’s Weekly, with his illustration titled “A Christmas Furlough”. The popularity of that image prompted him to create this one. [public domain / Wikimedia Commons]

[all due credit, of course, to Clement Clarke Moore (1779-1863) – a seminary professor of Hebrew and Greek – for his 1822 classic, A Visit from St. Nicholas]

* * *

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house,
Not a modem was stirring, nor clicking, a mouse.
The keyboard was covered in plastic with care,
In vain hopes that e-mail would not soon be there.

The children drank Nestle’s Quick (mugs in their beds),
While visions of video games danced in their heads.

And momma in nightgown and I in my sweats,

Had settled our brains from worries ’bout debts.

When out from the ‘puter there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my hot tub to see “what’s the matter?”
Away to my den, I flew from the shower;
To open my Windows, to fire up the power.

The brightness and glow of the newly-lit screen,
Gave lustre like emeralds to my sweatshirt of green.
When what to my aching red eyes should appear,
But a marvelous web site which was yet barely clear.

With a two-year-old browser, so slow and not quick,
I knew in a moment, “it must be a trick.”
More rapid than eagles the image did come,
And it whistled and rattled just like an old drum.

Now MicrosoftNetscape, World Wide Web, the ‘Net,
Bring comets and “cupids,” chat rooms and Lear jets.
And suddenly from sound bytes, I heard with my ears,
A “ho ho,” a sleigh bell and something like deer(s).

As I clicked on the icons and surfed all around,
Up on the small screen came St. Nick with a bound.
He was dressed in all red and he looked pretty glad;
And to download his belly took all RAM I had.

A bundle of e-mail he had in his sack;
And he looked like he’d traveled to Venus and back.
The monitor, it twinkled! My mood, it was merry! :-)
But then “momma” saw all the “e’s,” and ’twas “hairy!” :-(

When she grimaced and winced , and shook her fair head, {{{ >;-C }}}
She gave me to know I had plenty to dread. :-O
Then without a word, she left really quick, :-I —-> {?}
And I was alone with ole jolly St. Nick. :-D

But pointing his finger straight out at my nose,
He launched into most shocking “preacher man” prose:

Emmanuel’s what this great night’s all about;
He’s brought us new life so you better not pout.

Focus on Him, not malls, lights, and me.
And cut down on e-mail so a dad you can be.
Christmas is much more ’bout love than of credit.
Its message will fill up your soul if you let it.

So always remember the most valued things,
Are God, loved ones, heart, not cyberspace flings.

He sprang to his web page; my PC gave a clickin’;
And away he did fade, and his exit did quicken.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he “morphed” out of sight,
“Christ in Christmas is All, and to all He is Light!”

Largely composed (except for the first four lines and revisions later in the afternoon) during the wee hours of 16 December 1996, when the inspirational juices flow best.

* * * * *

The greatest Christmas gift is not gold rings,
Diamonds, silver watches, or nice sparkly things.
Not presents of green, red, purple, or blue,
With fancy ribbons and bows, and shiny too.
* * *
Not Scotch pine trees or mistletoe,
Nor turkey, nor holiday places to go.
Not caroling in the streets, great as that is,
Or two matching sweaters: hers and his.
* * *
Wonderful and good as all of these are,
Yet something else wondrous surpasses them far.
The Greatest of all the Gifts is Love,
Sent from God, from Heaven above.
* * *
Emanating from a lonely stall,
And shining out to reach us all.
Through spouses, friends, kin who touch us so,
Giving hope and joy, and helping us grow.
* * *
So I pause and thank God on this Christmas Eve,
For dear friends and family, my sorrows to relieve.
‘Tis such friends — who comfort, aid, and keep on giving,
That bless us with peace, and make life worth living.
* * *
Written on 24 December 1997
* * * * *
Little Did They Know

Little did they know what Child had been born;
This Son of Mary; in a cave the innkeepers scorned.
Large crowds of people, to tiny Bethlehem had come,
To pay tributes, be counted, and to give Caesar their sum.

Little did they know about the bright glowing star,
Which shone down on Lord Jesus, Whose children we are.
It even took spectacular angels, preaching in skies above,
To help poor shepherds recognize the dawn of new love.

Little did they know, Who this crowned, robed “king” was;
Who was worse than wicked Barabbas; why? — well, just “because.”
So they handed Him over to Caesar, for to judge, mock, and kill;
Yet Jesus was ready to atone for us; to do His Father’s will.

Little did they know why Our Savior suffered on the cross —
Not even His frightened disciples — whose faith had been lost.
Only His Mother Mary, and St. John stayed there at His feet,
Despite His words: “In three days I will rise” — followers to meet.

Little do we know, in this over-busy, secular age,
The true meaning of Christmas: Who occupies center stage.
“Christ’s Mass” is transformed to the bland “Happy Holiday.”
Thriving malls and growing debts replace Advent and Gospel ways.

So let us take some time, as we gather with loved ones so dear,
On Christmas Day, at this glorious, special time of year;
To be thankful for comfort and blessings — to give Caesar his due,
But above all, to worship Jesus — He Who makes all things new.

Written on 23 December 1999. 

* * * * *

‘Twas the Month After Election
– A Satirical Poem –
[be forewarned: not for the faint of heart of Democratic persuasion; remember, this is humor!]
An admittedly highly partisan take-off on the lunacy of the 2000 presidential election, with a doubly Christmassy twist . . .

‘Twas the month after election, when all through Florida land,
Not a single vote was certain, from pencil, stylus, or hand.
The chads were all hung on the ballots by a hair,
In hopes that Democratic canvassing boards soon would be there.

Palm Beach ladies wrestled with senility, all smug in their views,
With visions of conspiracy; “Buchanan we didn’t choose!”
Some counties had butterfly ballots, or pregnant dimples “clear,”
And liberals wracked their brains for a long bleeding-heart’s smear.

When on the White House lawn there arose such a stink,

They sprang from voting booths to loathe conservative rat finks.

Away to the media crusading Algore flew like a flash,

And tore open honesty and truth, evil Republicans to bash.

The moon and the sky, like Chicken Little, were caving in,

Giving a lustre of “plausibility” to cynical Democrat spin.

When what to our disbelieving eyes should appear,

But a grown-up whining crybaby, as certification drew near.

With a little old Supreme Court, honorable, liberal, and slick,

To legislate on a whim: this kangaroo court so quick.

More rapid than eagles, Algore’s counselors came,

And he whistled through fake smiles and called them by name:

Now Daschle! now Daley! now St. Christopher! now silly Boies!
On, Lieberman! on, Jennings; I’d Rather have Brokaw media ploys!
To the brink of shamelessness! To the very pinnacle of folly!
Now Daschle and Gephardt: dash away objectivity & fairness, by golly!

As the Constitution before the wild propaganda campaign died,
Faced with the obstacle of rule of law, they circumvented and lied.
So to thrice-counted punch cards salivating canvassers they flew,
With bags full of dirty tricks and chads; arrogant and self-righteous too.

And then, in a twinkling, Algore heard in his head,

The prying and gnawing of conscience’s dread.

While practicing Reaganisms, in the mirror saw he with squinting eyes,

Three luminous Ghosts of Close Elections Past, in but slight disguise.

They were covered in greasy ballots and dollars, from head to foot,

And their reputations were all tarnished with compromise and soot.

Like a bundle of risky schemes, Algore – dazed – fell flat on his back.

He looked like the Gipper, but dumber, less wrinkly; as if high on crack.

Richard Nixon’s eyes: how they twinkled! his jowls: how merry!
His fingers made the “victory” sign (McGovern he buried).
His droll little mouth said: “Let me make this perfectly clear.
I put country above ambition, in ’60 and ’74: what a year!”

Old Rutherford Hayes’ beard was long and white as fleece.

A stump speech from long ago he held tight in his teeth.
The smoke-filled rooms encircled his head like a scarf:
“When they called me Your Fraudulency,’ it made me wanna barf!”

Then handsome JFK told Algore: “I won because of debates on telly,
But old man Daley’s Chicago shenanigans made victory kinda smelly.
Even Tricky Dick gracefully, manfully conceded, like a jolly old elf.”
With a wink he warned: “So should you, in spite of your devious self.”

Algore suddenly arose, rubbing his eyes and twisting his head,

Soon giving hostage America to know it had nothing to dread.

He spoke no more lies and half-truths, but went straight to work,

Selling all his big oil stock(ings); no longer the big jerk.

And pointing his finger at himself instead of patient W. Bush,

He resumed his former pro-life views, and racial strife wouldn’t push.

He sprang to the congress; to fellow Democrats giving a call,

And urged upon them statesmanship; ugly bickering to stall.
And we heard him exclaim, as he conceded by the book,

Life means far more than stealing elections by hook or crook.

Jesus said: “the first shall be last, and the last shall be first.”
So for the good of the country, my ruthless ambition I will burst.
I’ve been a chameleon, exaggerated, and torn groups apart;
Now it’s time to stop demagoguing; I’ll examine my own heart.

And all marvelled at Algore’s classy cry, ere he finally faded out of TV sight:
Happy Christmas to all, and to Dubya, you put up a good fight!

Written on 9 December 2000, before the election was decided.

* * * * *

Love’s Pure Light, Burning Bright


Love’s pure Light, burning Bright, [Ps 89:15]
Crowning Creation, beginning of Story. [Gen 1:3]
Banishing darkness, cold, and Night, [Gen 1:4]
Skies and mountains bespeak His Glory. [Rom 1:20]


Love’s pure Light, what a sight! [1 Tim 6:16]
Shekinah cloud hovering high. [Ex 13:21]
Above the Temple, Jerusalem’s height, [1 Kings 8:10-11]
God’s presence, comforting, ever nigh. [Jer 31:33-34]


Love’s pure Light, cast away fright, [Lk 2:8-10]
God/Child trembling in the hay-filled cave. [Lk 2:11-14]
From Bethlehem’s star, receives heavenly Light, [Mt 2:9-11]
Fallen souls, weak bodies, came He to Save. [Jn 3:16-18]


Love’s pure Light, shows His might, [Jn 3:19-21]
Transfiguration’s wonders, disciples see. [Lk 9:29,32]
Elijah, Moses, Peter, John in twilight, [Lk 9:28,30-31,33-34]
Glimpse Afterlife’s marvels to be. [Phil 3:20-21]


Love’s pure Light, burning Bright, [Jn 8:12]
Conquering death, and Satan’s Ploy. [Rom 6:3-14]
Jesus Rising, vanquish’d man’s Plight, [Acts 1:3]
Guard soldiers dazed, scattered like toys. [Mt 28:1-4]


Love’s pure Light, what a sight! [Jn 1:4-5,9]
Disciples, Mary pray in the Upper Room. [Acts 1:12-14]
For each one a Fiery Spirit tonight, [Acts 2:1-4]
Causing to flee doubt, fear, and gloom. [Jn 14:27-29]


Love’s pure Light, cast away fright, [Mt 5:14-16]
Holy Spirit each believer to Dwell, [Jn 14:15-26]
Power, Grace, Peace for all Contrite, [Phil 4:13]
Exceeds, defeats temptations from Hell. [James 4:7]


Love’s pure Light, shows His might, [Rev 22:5]
Magnificent Almighty, Reigns on His Throne. [Rev 4:2-6]
Redeemed multitude Worships, Delights, [Rev 7:13-17]
Heaven’s Ecstatic Joy forevermore Shone. [Rev 21:1-27]
* * *

Written on 12 December 2001

* * * * *

Through the Eyes of a Child

Through the eyes of a child, Christmas splendor is lustrous, bright;
World aglow, enchanted, Spirit’s luminous presence hovers near.
The wonder, beauty, hope of the season, glorious holy silent night;
Young innocent hearts leading, older, “wiser” souls see and hear.
* * *
Through the eyes of a child, joys of Christmastime are ever-new;
God’s love, care resoundingly manifest to the jaded, grown-up type.
Life is marvelous and great, in precious sight of a sweet girl of two;
Advent and Yuletide so much more than dollars and commercial hype.
* * *
Through the eyes of a child, life, people gain blessed new meaning;
Family, longing, sharing, are guided, ordained from our Father on high.
Jesus’ graces pondered while decorating, game-playing, or cleaning;
In three boys’ laughing frolic, or “princess”‘ adorable pout and cry.
* * *
Through the eyes of a child, fathers, mothers are two or seven again;
Ten or twelve: listening for sleigh bells, savoring pine needles’ smell.
Wide-eyed, merry boys and girls can’t wait for Christmas’s “till then”;
While grateful parents yearn for sights, sounds, peace too deep to tell.
* * *
Through the eyes of a child, “big people” discover what living is about;
Who is really learning, and being blessed more? Is it us or is it them?
As Christmas draws near, loved ones gather, gifts opened with shouts;
We look through eyes of our children and the God-Child in Bethlehem.

December 12, 2003

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