John Y. Brown, III: The Night After Christmas

Twas the Night after Christmas

Twas the night after Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, except a small mouse.
The stockings were strewn across the floor like nobody cared,
In hopes more money would be found insider there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While hip hop on new head phones danced in their heads.
And mamma and I, both feeling like crap,
Had tried for a night’s sleep but got no more than a nap

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my office chair to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I stumbled and then crashed,
But pulled myself up by the shutters and threw open the sash.

It wasn’t the moon’s shiny cast on gleaming white snow
But the local garbage truck, grinding it’s gears low and slow
It was a wonder to tired eyes when what should appear
But Santa’s magic clean up crew—instead of elves and reindeer

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be our garbage man, Rick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called the refuse angry names!

Darned boxes, darned paper, darned instructions and spoiled food
To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!
Now trash away! Trash away! Trash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with a hydraulic waste collector, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the wrapping papers they flew,
With the truck full of excesses from St Nicholas’ crew.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard from my perch
The pulling and grunting of the garbage truck’s helpers.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
I thought to myself, what a difference a day makes. In fact it’s profound

I love Santa, his reindeer and am thankful for the gadgets and bling
But this morning, Rick and his helpers seemed like God’s greatest Christmas blessing.


Funniest Christmas moment.

Is it possible to have too White a Christmas? I think maybe so. I have a South African nephew, Lindo Mfeka, my sister adopted, along with his brother, a few years ago. At dinner last night, the now 17 year old and college bound young man who has had time to acclimate to American culture, explained to me his first Christmas with his new American family. And the utter confusion and fear and anxiety he felt when my sister tried to explain to him the whole Santa Claus thing worked.

An overweight man—white man, more than likely—will land on our house on a sleigh (filled with presents and a few magic elves) pulled by flying reindeer and more or less break and enter into our house tonight when we are asleep. By shimmying down the chimney. But not to steal anything. But rather to leave a bunch of gifts.

He said he was very suspicious of this whole concept and couldn’t see it working in his township in South Africa. They don’t greet intruders into their homes with milk and cookies. And as he explained when pressed about the Santa story in South Africa, “Well…..he supposedly comes, we were told, but only to a few of the very wealthy homes in South Africa…and was never even discussed as a possibly coming to where we lived.”

The whole time he retold this story to me last night in his polite Afrikan accent, I kept imagining him thinking to himself, “White people….they’re crazy,” although Sabelo is far too well mannered to actually think that.

But I had to admit I was a little ashamed and thought it may be time next year for a little bit less of a White Christmas. And to jazz up the Santa story with less Santa and a little more, I dunno, Billy Dee Williams maybe. I could get excited about Billy Dee Williams coming to my house. With or without the flying reindeer and magic elves or presents for that matter. Maybe just once every, say, 4 years let Billy Dee ride with Santa for the night. I think there’s something there.

Anyway, that was my biggest laugh this Christmas holiday and thank my adoptive nephew, Lindo Mfeka for kindly explaining how others may take longer to fully embrace the Santa story than others. And I wish him luck as he heads to the University of Tampa next year where he won a soccer scholarship. Cool kid with a bright future. I advised him to always be leery of flying reindeer and magic elves…but to keep an open mind, too.


Affection or Attrition? About to visit my in laws for the tradition of Christmas Day dinner. It’s the 25th time. And I swear they are really starting to think I may be OK after all. Part of it may be they know their daughter is running out of time to remarry anyone and start over. It’s a great feeling to almost have won them over . Or at least waited them out. I love them. And they are stuck with me.



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