A Message from St. Nicholas

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all ‘round the pole
Several straight years of warming were taking their toll.
The ice cave where goodies are frozen with care
Started melting this summer, so children, despair!

The chocolates were saved by their wrappings of gold,
But we lost the year’s sugar plum harvest to mold.
More icebergs are calving; they boom and they snap,
And the Missus and I cannot get through a nap.

Then, tonight, I was woken by such a loud clatter
I jumped out of our bed to see what was the matter.
I looked out of the window and gasped with dismay:
The toddler toy workshop was floating away!

The moon on the rain that had frozen to ice
Cast in blue and black shadows the terrible slice
Where the ground ‘neath a year’s worth of hard work had cracked.
My eyes itched with tears, then my forehead I smacked:

“You better stop moping, and get to work, quick
To recover the toys, or your name’s not St. Nick!”
So I threw on my boots, and I ran to my sleigh
And I called on my reindeer to help save the day.

“Come, Dasher! come, Dancer! come, Prancer and Vixen!
Come, Comet! come, Cupid! come, Donder and Blitzen!
We will fly to the iceberg and tow it right back
And then load all the toys safely into my sack!’

But the reindeer trudged out of their shed, antlers down.
Never meeting my eyes, Dasher said with a frown,
“I’m sorry, St. Nick, but we’re not strong enough.
All this warm winter rain has made feeding too tough.

“We can’t dig through the ice like we dig through the snow
To uncover the lichen all snuggled below.
So there’s just no way we can rescue these toys,
Then deliver them all to each girl and each boy.”

I considered my coursers, with their drooping heads
And I knew I should send them all back to their beds.
But then what of the children all over the earth
Who relied on my team for their holiday mirth?

I prepared to give up with a shrug and a sigh
When a huge jet of water shot into the sky!
And out of the gap in the ice sheet arose
A bulbous white head and a pointy white nose.

“Beluga!” I cried, and I heard my voice crack.
“Would you call on your friends to help bring these toys back?
If you push on the iceberg with all your shared might
You can bring it to me and so save Christmas night!”

Then the whale grinned wide, and she opened her beak,
And she answered my plea with a sarcastic squeak.
“There isn’t a whale from here to Cape Horn
Who would help you with this,’ she admonished with scorn.

“All of these plastic gifts kids unwrap with such glee
Will get tossed within weeks and end up in the sea
Where my friends see them floating, mistake them for jellies
Then die from the build-up of junk in their bellies.”

As I listened, I felt my heart crack like the ice.
Maybe Christmas, I thought, is more naughty than nice.
So now here is my seasonal greeting to you:
Heal the planet, you dolts! I’m on strike till you do!

Image credit Art and Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. “A merry Christmas.” New York Public Library Digital Collections

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