Christmas Eve with Nana

On the night before Christmas our parents were busy

We children excited and jumping and dizzy,

The twinkling fairy lights made Granddad dozy

While sensible Nana was warm, calm and cosy.

“Please tell them a story,” said Mum to her mother,

So Nana sat down with us, sister and brother.

“We’ll go on a journey,” she said, “around Britain.

Get a scarf and a hat, and where’s that lost mitten?

We’ll give Father Christmas a hand on his sleigh,

He’ll tire us out, so we’ll sleep till next day!”

With cushions, bells, blankets the sleigh ride was fun,

Much faster – and greener – than on the M1.

We started in Cornwall, at the tip of Land’s End

Giving out surfboards and Fisherman’s Friends

The reindeer pranced and broke into a canter –

Father Christmas shook hands, saying “Just call me Santa.

Now Rudolph, now Rosie, don’t be so hasty:

You do know I always stop here for a pasty.”

Then on over Dartmoor, so dark and so wet,

Those hard-working reindeer got up a sweat!

Along the south coast past Bournemouth to Brighton

The Pavilion dazzling with all its bright lights on.

In London we slid down a big helter-skelter

Delivered some gifts to the Hackney Night Shelter.

We feasted on vine leaves and rice and kebab

As Santa said that wouldn’t add to his flab.

Then back to the West past Oxford and Bath

At last we saw snow on the Welsh coastal path!

When a ship was in trouble off Giant’s Causeway

Santa sent lifeboats to show them the way.

We swooped past the diners and clubs of Manchester

Had saltfish and ackee and then went to Leicester.

“Some children don’t celebrate Christmas,” he said

“I’ll still leave some gifts at the foot of their bed.

At Christmas we always help people in need,

Just as we do when we celebrate Eid.”

We went past grand houses with blue swimming pools

Bright stars scintillating on water like jewels.

We squeezed down the chimneys of rich and of poor

If Santa saw presents were few, he gave more.

When Santa got hungry again in Kirklees

He pulled up the sleigh and picked up a Chinese.

All tangled in noodles he feared we’d gone wrong

And checked on the SatNav. But we weren’t lost long

For look! There was Durham, all sparkling glory!

The cathedral was shining as bright as Diwali.

The choir was singing for comfort and joy

Handing spicy mince pies to each girl and boy.

Up North it was colder and down in the street

The homeless were shivering under the sleet.

Santa entered a pub. It was full of good cheer:

“Please offer a bed to this poor couple here.

It’s Christmas, no-one should be out in the cold,

A Bethlehem innkeeper helped, I’ve been told.”

“You have only to ask,” said the landlord, “I’ve room!”

When sure they were settled, off Santa went – zoom!

Edinburgh next and how Princes Street glittered!

Santa gave everyone boots – and they fitted!

Then the Highlands and Islands, bleak fields and sheep

Shepherds snowed in on the dark hillsides steep

And hardly a soul there to give presents to –

“Thank heavens for that!” Santa said, “’cos I'm through!

That last chimney was squeezing me closer and closer

I knew I should never have had that samosa.

Thanks for your company – made me feel perky

I’ll be thinking of you when I’m eating my turkey.”

He turned his sleigh round to drop us off home,

Over fens, and past airports and waves high with foam.

Nana tucked us in bed with a smile and a kiss

Whispering, “Best not to tell Mum about this…”

Exhausted but happy we slept until late

And woke up for Christmas Day well after eight!

 

© Jessica Norrie 2016

Note from the author: My agent submitted this poem to children’s publishers in 2017. Reactions were favourable but they wanted a round-the-world version (to appeal to a wider potential market). I did write one but felt it to be less successful. However, at some point I divided both poems into standard children’s picture book formats, and thought about how, when I was an infant teacher, I would have read them aloud with Year 2, following the routes on maps of the UK or a globe, perhaps eating some sample foods and adding a couplet to reflect Santa making an extra stop in our own neighbourhood. So now all I need is an illustrator! If any artists/designers out there would like to join forces on a project to publish this as a picture book, please contact me via the email contact on my blog: https://jessicanorrie.wordpress.com

If you have enjoyed this poem, then you can find out more about Jessica's books by clicking on the titles below.

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