Friday, 19 November 2010

POEM - "When Santa Claus Was Ill"

Father Christmas

The Lloydminster Homeschool Association is hosting a Christmas Showcase during the afternoon of Sunday, December 5th, at the Lloydminster Gospel Fellowship (LGF) church.  Each student has been given the opportunity to make a 4-minute presentation as part of the program.  Our homeschoolers can also either display some of the items they have been working on, or enter a science fair type project.  Alisdair hasn't been sure what he wanted to present - A speech?  A song? Or maybe a poem?

I was searching online for ideas, and came across this poem in a book called "Christmas Selections for Readings and Recitations," complied by Rosamond Livingstone McNaught.  The book was online (in its entirety) and is part of the collection of the University of California at Los Angeles.  Its contents are copyright 1906 but the frontspiece gives the date 1911.  The printer was "The Penn Publishing Co."

Although it is too long to memorize, I thought it might be appropriate - we would just have to change "Fourth of July" to "First of July" to Canadianize the poem.  And, as I said to Alisdair, with a selection that old, we are guaranteed that no one else will be doing the same piece!

When Santa Claus Was Ill 

Old Father Time, on Christmas Eve,
Said anxiously, "I do believe
That Father Christmas will be late,
He ought to start, it's half-past eight
At midnight he is due on earth,
He'll have to rush for all he's worth,
It is a shame, upon my word!" --
Just then the telephone was heard.
"Hello," said Time.  "Hello, who's this?"
"A messenger from Father Kris,
He has a bad attack of gout
And won't be able to go out,
And so he hopes you can supply
A substitute for him.  Good-bye."

"I feared that this would come to pass,
For Father Christmas has grown old
And cannot stand the frost and cold.
But to the waiting human race
I must send some one in his place,
I'd go myself if 'twas not now
My busiest day, I don't see how
I can be spared, 'tis almost nine."
Ting-ting!  "Hello, St. Valentine!"
"Who's this?"  "I'm Time."  "Hello, hello,
Christmas is ill, so can't you go
And take his place on earth to-night?
You're just about his size and height,
The difference none would ever know,
Come, hurry up, old chap, and go."

"I can't," St. Valentine replied,
"I've caught a cold, and then beside
I'm very busy writing lines
And making up my Valentines.
I'm sorry, Father Time, but I
Can't go, get some one else.  Good-bye."
Then Father Time was very vexed,
First of July he called up next,
But that young urchin laughed in glee,
And said, "No Christmases for me:
Too well my face each youngster knows,
Besides, I have no winter clothes."

"I'll go," the little New Year said,
Time patted the small curly head,
And kindly said, "No boy, not so,
But next week, Sunday, you may go."
And just then April Fool came by
With mischief in his twinkling eye,
He heard the trouble, and said he,
"Why Father Time, I'll go, send me,
I know the customs of old Yule,
I'll wear a long white beard and wig,
And make myself look old and big,
And do the best I can for you."

As there was nothing else to do
Old Time was forced to give consent,
And to the April Fool he lent
Old Father Christmas' robe and cap.
Arrayed in these the merry chap
Was sure he'd fool the wisest folk.
And went off chuckling at the joke.
He reached the earth just at the time
The bells rang out their midnight chime,
And through the whole of Christmas Day
That tricky April Fool held sway.
He thought up all that he could plan
To tease the heart of mortal man.

Instead of snow and frost and storm
The weather was quite mild and warm,
The fields were gay with budding flowers,
The clouds gave hints of April showers,
Instead of Christmas songs all day
They heard the street hand-organs play,
The children who had hoped to see
A Spruce or Hemlock Christmas Tree
Discovered in the best front room
A Peach or Cherry Tree in bloom.
Even the candies were no good,
Just cotton, wool or bits of wood,
And somehow no one thought it droll
To find salt in the sugar bowl.
He mixed up all the children's toys,
Gave drums to girls and dolls to boys,
He gave the ladies pipes and canes,
And to the men, fans and gold chains,
Gave specks to babies in long frocks,
And to their grandpas, building blocks,
Until each woman, man and child
With indignation went quite wild,
But never did they know or guess
Why Christmas wasn't a success.
And mischief-loving April Fool
Laughed at the topsy-turvy Yule.
Unfortunately, the author of this imaginative poem is not given.

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