I heard such a curious story
Of Santa Claus. Once, so they say,
He set out to find what people were kind,
Before he took presents their way.
"This year I will give but to givers,
To those who make presents themselves."
With a nod of his head, old Santa Claus said
To his band of bright officer elves:
"Go into the homes of the happy
Where Pleasure stands page at the door,
Watch well how they live, and report what they give
To the hordes of God's suffering poor.
Keep track of each cent and each moment,
Yea, tell me each word, too, they use,
To silver line clouds for earth's suffering crowds,
And tell me, too, when they refuse."
So, into our homes flew the fairies,
Though never a soul of us knew,
And with pencil and book, they sat by us, and took
Each action, if false or if true.
White marks for the deeds done for others,
Black marks for the deeds done for self,
And nobody hid what he said or he did,
For no one, of course, sees an elf.
Well, Christmas came all in its season
And Santa Claus, so I am told,
With a very light pack of small gifts on his back
And his reindeers all left in the fold,
Set out on a leisurely journey,
And finished ere midnight, they say,
And there never had been such surprise and chagrin,
Before on the breaking of day
As there was on that bright Christmas morning
When stockings and cupboards and shelves
Were ransacked and sought in for gifts that were not in--
But wasn't it fun for the elves?
And what did I get? You confuse me--
I got not one thing, and that's true,
But had I suspected my actions detected
I would have had gifts-- wouldn't you?
Ella Wheeler Wilcox, The Beautiful Land of Nod, 1892