One brisk winter night an angel appeared
To a toy maker named Nicholas, with his pipe and his beard.
Gabriel said, “Glory! To the children you go!
Take care of each tot from their head to their toe.
Their families don’t want them, but I know you do.
Go be their father, a father that’s true.”
Nicholas fell to the floor with prayers and a gasp.
He grabbed his coin purse; his coat he did grasp.
He ran past each home in the village that night.
He put coins in their shoes in the misty moonlight.
Shoes by the windows, shoes by the doors,
So, children had money for food in the stores.
The next night he pondered their need for some sweets,
For toy trains and candy, for holiday treats.
So, he tiptoed through town with his gifts in a sack.
He left toys and candy; no child would lack.
On Sunday at Mass, the toy maker sang
The songs from the hymnal; the church bells he rang.
He sat on the steps of the cathedral with glee
And told stories of reindeer that flew ‘bove the tree.
When the priest heard the stories, he told Nicholas, “Be quiet!
Snowmen are evil! Fairy elves start a riot!
Put your money in the plate that comes ‘round the church.
Stop making up lies, the devil might perch.”
But Nicholas heard prayers of his neighbor at Mass,
Who asked God for dowries, for his daughters, alas!
He worried his children would never find mates.
They each needed a suitor, and then wedding dates.
So, the toymaker dressed in a red velvet cloak,
Filled purses with coins, for the poor common folk.
He climbed on the roof of the faithful man’s home.
He saw flying reindeer; through the sky they did roam.
Down the chimney he dropped the purses with faith—
That stockings would catch them, as Gabriel would saith.
Then he climbed from the rooftop, walked away in the snow,
‘Til the poor father found him, and said, “I can’t take this, no!”
Nicholas refused and said, “I’ll give, not receive.
Your good Christian daughters will be married Christmas Eve.”
The common man fell to his knees as he cried,
“Jesus and Mary! The groom and the bride!
This man is a saint! A father that’s blest!
He is Father Christmas; just look how he’s dressed!”
When the parish priest heard of the poor daughters’ gifts,
He tracked Nicholas down, as he took his night shifts.
The priest hoped the women in the village would not wed.
“More nuns for the parish, who bake daily bread!”
The next day he ordered the parish to return
Any gift from a stranger that they did not earn.
The priest canceled Christmas; he called off the Mass.
“No weddings this Christmas!” His words cut like glass.
If children felt hungry, he told them a lie:
“Oh, pray so much harder, it’s your fault you can’t buy
Food for your tummies. You must have sinned.
Children are trouble. Your hinds should be skinned.”
But Nicholas said, “Children will eat!
The women will marry, not live on the street!
I gave the presents! They won’t be returned!
Love is a gift! It cannot be earned!”
The priest said, “He’s lying! He stole what he gave.
Someone arrest him! Make him behave.”
Nicholas ran for his life, and he doubted he met
An angel from heaven. He tried to forget.
But that night in his sleep, the angel appeared.
Gabriel said, “Wake now! The Lord be revered.
The priest will be caught for the evil he did.
You are Father Christmas. Your name won’t be hid.
Vow now to listen, and heed what I say.
You’ll soon be a hero. Celebrate Christmas day!”
The week after Christmas, the priest set a trap.
He waited ‘til Nicholas dozed for his nap.
He lured women and children to the old dusty church.
With orphans as hostage, no parents could search.
He told the women God put him in charge.
His heart was small, and his crime very large.
Once the women and children were tied up in tears,
The priest filled them up with all kinds of fears.
He sent word to Nicholas for a mighty high ransom.
The letter was ugly, his handwriting unhandsome.
When Nicholas read of the capture at hand,
He climbed the church steeple, and he took command.
He jumped down the chimney and landed feet first.
He sent up a prayer; he would not think the worst.
As he crawled from the fireplace, in soot and in dust,
He wrestled the priest and fought in disgust.
‘Til he swung back the doors and cheered in relief!
A soldier and guard dog fixed the problem—in brief.
Now the children were free! The women were blessed!
Father Christmas said, “Dear ones, do not be distressed!
The liar has left now. You are no more the least.
Let’s sing and be merry! Let’s go have a feast!
A new priest will come to the village in weeks.
Since I’m Father Christmas, I’ll pinch children’s cheeks.
I’ll marry the women on each Christmas Eve.
No one will cry. Yes, no one will grieve.”
When weeks turned to months, and months turned to years,
And no priest arrived, Father Christmas made cheers!
He saved all the children and married the girls
To chivalrous suitors with diamonds and pearls.
And when he remembered what Gabriel foretold,
Nicholas looked up to heaven and gave thanks so bold.
Each year he made toys and filled up his pack.
He wore out his cloak and never looked back.
Copyright 2013 Jennifer Waters