A St. Nicholas Carol for Christmas

On Christmas Eve at the North Pole
A chubby sprite in white and red
Groaned inwardly and searched his soul
For why the world felt drab and dead.
A line of elves, in bright array,
Stood waiting in the toy-stuffed shop
For orders to pack up the sleigh;
Instead the plump one murmured, "Stop."

"I know each year at Christmas-tide
With laughing joy I overflow.
But not this year," sad Santa sighed.
"My heart's run out of 'Ho, ho, ho.'
A season that should pulse with glee
Instead is rife with death and greed,
From war and terror children flee,
And heartless plenty sneers at need."

Nick went outside to taste the cold;
The sharp snow snapped beneath his boot.
The sky was black, the night, months-old;
The stars were few, far off, minute.
And stooping in the freezing dark,
The elf gave in to grief and care.
The world's hurts stood before him, stark,
And wrapped him in their bleak despair.

"There's nothing new in human woe,
From age to age we feel its weight,
But this year, rage just seemed to grow,
And drown out care with angry hate.
My reservoir of joy's too dry
To spread glad tidings to the earth.
I simply can't remember why
We gather hope from a homeless birth."

But as he turned a tear-filled eye
Up from the Arctic's empty ice,
A glimmer kindled in the sky,
A sudden spark of paradise.
The glister skipped around the night.
New sparks flared up at every leap,
And grew to sheets of dazzling light
Where winter darkness had lain deep.

Clear music bloomed in Santa's ear,
Warm rose-smells filled his frost-rimed nose,
He tasted piping Christmas cheer,
And tickling heat engulfed his toes.
Nick staggered as this sudden blaze
Broke open every deadened sense,
And where bleak ice had spread its glaze,
A spring of joy welled up, immense.

The light took shape, and formed a child,
That beamed on him, around, above,
The babe both conquering and mild,
A ray of universal love.
So Nick the Portly bowed his head
In silent hope and gratitude.
The light caressed him, quelled his dread,
And gave him back himself, renewed.

Then, just as quick, the vision closed;
It was still cold, it was still dark,
But deep in Santa, heart-enclosed,
There burned again a vital spark.
"Thank you, Love," he said in prayer,
"I thank you for this inner glow.
"Although life's hurts still linger, there
Is always Hope to balance woe."

Back from the night St. Nicholas sprang,
Back through the door to the waiting crowd.
"Load up the sleigh," the glad elf sang,
With a "Ho, ho, ho," both deep and loud.
"Get Rudolph and his antlered friends
Up from their drowsy, hay-filled dream.
Tonight their idle season ends;
I need my fast, enchanted team."

So Santa, with his soul refreshed,
Spread joy around our troubled earth.
And gifts of things, with love enmeshed,
Brought more than their mere worldly worth.
When we have moments of despair,
May we, like Nicholas, remember
That Love, with tenderness and care,
Ignites Hope's fire each cold December.