Posted Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012, at 1:45 PM
In Brown University's digital collection of temperance pamphlets and broadsides, this parody of Clement Moore's “A Visit from St. Nicholas” stands out for its relatively late publication date (circa 1941) and use of humor. Where many earlier temperance pamphlets leveraged the pathos of abandoned families to plead with drinkers to put a stop to their tippling, this poem reminded readers just how awful it could feel to overindulge.
In this topsy-turvy retelling of Moore's poem, the narrator's house is in a wreck after the Christmas revelries (“The stockings weren't hung by the chimney with care—/The darn things were sprawled on the back of a chair”) and the parents don't look much better. The husband wryly tells us that after consuming “egg-nog and turkey and candy,” he “felt like the devil, and so did the spouse.”
Too much drinking and eating has turned the magic of Christmas into a nightmare. Santa, an “old devil,” calls his reindeer by the names of traitorous Christmas delicacies: “'Now Egg-Nog! Bacardi! Four Roses! and Brandy!/Now Fruit Cake! Cold Turkey! Gin Rickey! And Candy!'”
As the “reindeer” “whack away, crack away, with thumps that are dull” on the narrator's head, he makes an oath of temperance for the New Year: “You can have your rich victuals, and liquor that's red,/But what goes to my stomach won't go to my head.”
We don't know who wrote this clever parody, but it was donated to the Brown University Library by collector W. Easton Louttit.