Twas the day before Christmas, and all through the town, there was a hustle and a bustle going down. Some people were scurrying about, running errands, and doing some last-minute shopping. Others were driving around in big diesel four by fours, that rumbled and roared, like the fire breathing dragons of lore. There was no mistaking them.
Even the ravens knew the big day was nigh. They had lookouts perched high in the trees watching all the dumpsters in town that humans had a habit of over filling. If they spotted some food, they gave out a cry, then a riff raff of ravens swooped in, to feast on whatever was there. Clever birds those ravens, they could pull bags of trash out of a partially open dumpster. To me a gang of ravens, was called a riff, if it had an even number and a raff, if the number was odd.
Even the foxes were out following their trails and checking them twice just in case someone was naughty or nice. Naughty because they littered, nice because it provided food. Maybe some fried chicken scraps, half eaten burgers or some fries. Most humans don’t realize it, but all the animals around town, have a mid-winter celebration too.
Now would be a good time to take a break. Sit in a big comfortable chair near the warmth of the wood stove and enjoy a cup or glass of eggnog. As you do, think of Christmases past and maybe remind yourself of the Great Eggnog Riot of December 24 and 25 that happened in 1826. Back then people drank eggnog warm and often spiked it generously.
If you have never heard of the riot, you might not believe it, but it happened in a different era. It happened at the United States Military Academy, often referred to as West Point in New York State. It seems a group of cadets, which is what the military called the students, decided to smuggle in a little whisky to spike their eggnog. A little turned into a lot.
Boys will be boys and students will be students. They liked to party, drink and occasionally riot. Doors were kicked in and out, furniture was thrown out of windows regardless of whether they were opened or closed, an instructor who tried to read the riot act was chased out and this being a military facility, some pistols were discharged. Apparently, it was quite a raucous party. When it was all over and an inquiry held, 6 cadets resigned, 19 were court marshaled and 10 expelled. It was a Christmas to remember.
Theoretically Santa and his elves will visit a lot of houses tonight or in the wee hours of the morning. Let’s hope things run smoothly because some years are more hectic than others.
Now everyone has heard of the elves. They are those cute little folks with pointed ears, who wear red and green and who are very gregarious. But not that many are familiar with the gnomes, who are woodsy, shyer and more reclusive. Yet they do a lot of the hard work and heavy lifting for Santa and his team.
One year the elves at Santa’s workshop got into the cookies and the eggnog, that may have been fortified, a little early. They got quite giddy and more than a little tipsy. High on sugar and slightly befuddled they messed up loading Santa’s sleigh and a whole bunch of toys and presents were left behind. Part way through his rounds Santa was running out of presents. He knew the elves were out of commission, so he texted the gnomes instead. They talked to their friends the ravens. Soon the sky was filled with ravens carrying presents to a rendezvous point with Santa. The smaller presents the ravens could carry solo but the bigger presents needed a whole team flying in tandem. Some carried glow sticks to avoid nighttime collisions.
It was a rave, a kindness or a cleverness of ravens that filled the night sky and people who saw or heard them wondered what the heck was going on. And that, boys and girls, is how the gnomes and ravens saved a Christmas that was almost ruined by eggnog.
So, everyone have a good Christmas and remember eggnog is best consumed in moderation. Ho, Ho, Ho!