Once Upon a Christmas Cheery; or, Holiday with a Monkey
Once upon a Christmas cheery, while I pondered, slightly bleary,
Over many a quaint and curious bottle of very fine Aberlour
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"Tis Ephram's monkey," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door -
Only this and nothing more."
For distinctly I remember, that every year during December
When each dissolute young staffer leaves his trash upon the floor,
That this dratted little monkey, with an odor somewhat funky,
Tries to sneak into my office, picking locks on every door;
Searching for that rarest whisky, thirty year old Aberlour -
Which I hide beneath the floor.
Now my nephew's thieving habits seem to breed 'round here like rabbits
For year round he teaches everyone to steal from rich and poor;
So that now, 'twas no surprise, and so I stood with narrowed eyes
Waiting for that monkey trying entrance at my chamber door;
For though Ephram's students try, they lack his skill, that something more
Save the monkey, who has an extra store.
All year round I battle wits with this small simian who fits
Within my second-best silk hat, hanging there right by the door.
Ephram's tried to get it all, stealing faintly down the hall
Searching softly for my chequebook, watch or anything to hand.
But I am salty and well seasoned and can easily stand
Against my nephew 's little band.
The monkey, though, is quicker than his master, who's a stickler
For sleeping late and doing just as little as he positively can.
Tis a wonder, this is true, that we publish aught that's new
With a group of writers spending all their time upon the floor.
As I ponder this I wonder why I toil against this poor
Little protégé of Ephram's at my door.
He is clever, albeit hairy, and he's not the least bit scary
And I'm beginning to suspect that he is writing here as well;
For the difference engines rumble, and the typeface seems to tumble
Into place whether my nephew 's in an incoherent spell.
And I think, well 'tis the season, do I really need a reason?
And I throw open the heavy study door.
Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
That the little fellow'd given up and turned in for the night;
But the silence was soon broken, and his little footfalls token
Of his presence on the Shipman's clock with oil lamp burning bright.
Though he skulked quite admirably my keen old eyes could still just see
His little nose glinting in the light.
"Come on in!" I boomed with grace. "Take that mask up off your face
And sit with me beside the fire's cheerful smoky roar.
For you may be somewhat shirty, but there's little doubt you're worthy
Worthy more than most who work here, printing stories evermore.
Christmas comes with steady tread, and 'tis better to be fed
And warm with whisky ; here, do let me pour."
And on that wintry night, twas a most peculiar sight
In my study, softly lit and cluttered up on the second floor.
For I sat there with a glass, wondering if it was too crass
To give such splendid Scotch to one who swings about outdoors.
But the monkey was polite, perching with evident delight
Drinking Scotch and asking for some more.
Words, alas, we could not share; for there was much more than hair
Separating older editor from simian, admiring the décor.
But on such nights, at the hearth, safe from winter's outside roar
There's not much to say in any event; one just enjoys sopor
And drinks the Scotch, and listens to the snow and sleet downpour.
Tis a wintry pastime that we all adore.
I watch him, sitting up, sipping from a tiny cup
And I wonder how my life has come to this peculiar shore.
The road is long around the holidays, a mystery for sure
But in tranquility the spirit thinks of merry times before
And lets itself begin to drift and soar.
"Just this once," I warned the chap, as he settled for a nap
Finding that the drink was stronger than he'd had before.
"Do not think, young fellow, that my spirit's gone too mellow:
For should I find you sneaking round my office space once more,
I'll not hesitate to show you to the door."
And it was then he gave a wink, or something similar I think
Just as he settled down most comfortably to snore.
Well, at least now he is sleeping, which most certainly 's in keeping
With the work ethic my staff all seem to share, though I deplore.
But I confess my vigor too is now no more.
So I settled for a nap, in my cozy winter cap,
But first I stood up and made sure that I had locked my study door.
"Let's wait here for Old Saint Nick, lest my nephew play a trick
And tries to help himself to Christmas scotch bottles galore."
Trust my nephew? Why, whatever for?
But I shall be kinder to the monkey evermore.