We went to Northtown visiting, my good old wife an' me,
An' thought that we would bathe ourselves in Chris'mas joy an' glee;
For Sarah Ann, a buxom dame, an' daughter, too, of mine,
Resides there with her older-half an' children eight or nine.
An' so we gathered gifts enough to make 'em all content,
An' took the train an' landed there the very day we went.
The children warmly greeted us an' crowded round my chair,
With four a-perchin' on my knees, an' young 'uns still to spare;
An' asked about my spectacles, an' how I growed my wig,
An' if my papa bought my teeth before I got so big;
An' how my whiskers come to bleach; an' other questions prone
To make a mortal realize that younger days have flown;
An' if I ever looked it up how far I was around,
An' when I run if it would shake the whole adjacent ground;
An' if the your-correct-weight box didn't think I was a lot,
An' if I wouldn't have to put two pennies in the slot;
With other questions well designed to give a hint to me
That I was not a first-class sylph, so far as they could see.
An' when I told 'em fairy-tales, they wouldn't believe a word,
An' said the Sin'bad sailor things could never have occurred;
An' all the pleasant little lies that used to cheer my youth
They set upon without delay as destitute of truth.
An' when of Christmas mysteries in solemn tones I spake,
They laughed an' said that Santa Claus was all "a bloomin' fake."
So Christmas eve I slyly told my daughter Sarah Ann:
"I'll show the tots a little sight to laugh at if they can.
You rake the fireplace clear o' fire, not tellin' them the cause,
An' I'll come down the chimney-way dressed-up as Santa Claus.
It isn't very fur to climb---the weather's pretty mild,
An' I would do three times as much to interest a child."
I went an' clad in hairy garb, with whiskers long an' white,
An' other things to paralyze the inexperienced sight,
An' had some sleigh-bells bright an' new a hangin' on my arms,
An' pockets full o' Christmas things to add unto my charms;
An' with the strongest ladder-rope that I could find in town,
I entered in the chimney-top an' clambered slowly down.
My goodness sakes! Whoever heard of such untimely luck?
The chimney narrowed all at once, an' suddenly I stuck!
An' hung there like a roastin' hen a-waitin' to be brown,
For spite of all my effortin' I couldn't get up or down.
An' then the chil'ren heard the noise and run distressin' fleet,
An' looked and yelled: "It's Gran'pa Steb: we know him by his feet!"
An' then their mother had to tell what I had tried to do,
Whereat their little fancies sprung the subject to pursue:
They asked me if I'd traveled far, if chimneys injured coats,
An' where my span of reindeers was, an' if they'd like some oats;
An' told me, with a childish greed for Christmas-gathered pelf,
If I would throw the presents down, I needn't come myself;
An' there I hung for quite a while, with fury in my heart,
Until they brought a mason in, who took the bricks apart;
An' though they made the children stop an' sent 'em off to bed,
I knowed what they was thinkin' of, an' what they prob'ly said.
An' when the mornin' light appeared, an' breakfast-time occurred,
They sat around the table there forbid to say a word;
A-sufferin' so to laugh at me, afraid that I'd be gruff,
An' longin' for their presents, too---I knowed it well enough.
An' then a tear come in my eye, an' like a fond old dunce
I went an' dug the presents out an' give 'em all to once.
An' then I says, "If Santa Claus is what you call 'a fake',
These pretty things he brought fur you is real an' no mistake."
An' then they up an' danced around an' kissed me, one by one,
An' hugged me harder than the blamed old chimney just had done,
An' with a thousand looks of love incumbered me with thanks,
An' made me like 'em more an' more in spite of all their pranks;
An' one, the prettiest of the whole, who always took my part,
She smiles an' says: "It's Gran'pa Steb: we know him by his heart!"
Will Carleton, Songs of Two Centuries, 1902