Untitled Document

'Twas the Day Before Christmas, or,
Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas

By Wilfrid de Freitas and Susan Ravdin
Wilfrid M. de Freitas - Bookseller

(With apologies to Clement Moore
and Major Henry Livingston)

First published in the ABA's 2005 Christmas Newsletter


'Twas the day before Christmas, and all through the shop
Not a buyer was stirring, just me with my mop;
The punch and the cookies were laid out with care,
In hopes that a customer soon would be there.

The books were all nestled and snug on their shelves,
Their stories and essays still kept to themselves.
The tidying finished, I fell into the trap,
And found myself dozing, the cat in my lap.

When all of a sudden there arose such a clatter,
I looked up from my desk to see what was the matter.
Through my glasses I peered at the door now ajar,
But no one could I see, not even a car.

The rays of the sunset on the window display
Made the gilt dance like tree lights, all twinkling away,
When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a red-suited gent, all brimming with cheer.


With his beard and his step, so lively and quick,
The thought crossed my mind, "He's just like St. Nick!"
More rapid than eagles, his queries they came,
"I want certain authors," and he called them by name:
"There's DANTE, and DARWIN, and MILTON, and AUSTEN!
Then DICKENS, and NEWTON, and STEINBECK and RUSKIN!
Signed first editions, triple-deckers," he called,
"In the finest condition, I must have them all!"

As quick as I could to my shelves I did fly,
In the hopes that I had what he wanted to buy.
Then up on the ladder, to the shelf at the top,
Where I thought I had seen them last week in the shop.

Sure enough, there they were, all nice in a row
A beautiful binding on an early Inferno;
The Nature of Gothic, a vellum delight;
And Tale of Two Cities with gilt nice and bright.

In Dubious Battle, one of ninety-nine signed;
Both Paradises -they're two of a kind.
The Origin in its gilt cloth was like new;
Triple-decked Emma, and Principia, too.

The books were all perfect, the volumes how many
They sat on my counter, and worth every penny.
As I totted them up, I thought with good cheer,
"This'll be quite a Christmas, not one like last year!"


He examined them all, and checked with great care,
That the plates were all clean, and the points were all there.
He looked at the bindings, and at each of the ends;
And said,"They're all gifts for my family and friends."

He was smiling and pleased, a right jolly old elf,
He laughed as he told me, "Just one's for myself."
When I saw what they came to, I was nearly struck dumb;
My banker will love it; oh, what a nice sum!

When I told him the total, he did not protest,
But reached for his cheque-book - no discout request!
Each carefully wrapped, they made quite a load,
He just took up the bags, out the doorway he strode.

I woke with a start, as a customer coughed,
And handed me books from the paperback loft.
She paid me in cash, and I sighed, but was bright,
"HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO YOU, AND TO YOU A GOOD-NIGHT!"

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