‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro’ the sump,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a rogue pump;
The engineers were assembled by the brow with care,
In hopes that the anchor windlass part soon would be there;
The sailors were nestled all snug in their sked,
While visions of holiday leave danc’d in their heads,
And XO in her ‘kerchief, and Captain in his cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap-
When out on the pier there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the port break to see what was the matter.
Away to the pilothouse I flew like a flash,
Tore open the scuttles, and threw up the sash.
The waning gibbous moon on the breast of the new fallen snow,
Gave the lustre of mid-day to the ocean below;
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a helicopter sleigh, and eight tiny rein-deer,
With a little old driver, full of life and joy,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Koy!
More Dauntless than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and call’d them by name:
“Now! GUNNO, now! ORDO, now! FCO, and TRAIN,
“On! ASWO, on! DCA, on! ELECTRO and CHENG;
“From the top of the mast! to the break of the swell!
“Now RAS away! RAS away! RAS away well!”
As dry leaves before the wild helos fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the missile deck the coursers they flew,
With the net full of Toys – and St. Koy too:
And then in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the intake St. Koy came through with a bound:
Dress’d in FRV cotton, from his head to his foot,
And his boots were all tarnish’d with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys was flung on his back,
And he look’d like a peddler just rolled out his rack:
His eyes – how they twinkled! his dimples how merry,
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry;
His droll little mouth knew just what to say,
To inspire and keep all his sailors at bay;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
He crept in the hatch and went straight to his cabin,
He filled all the stockings and signed them “From Captain,”
And laying his finger aside of his nose
And giving a nod, up the exhaust stack he rose.
He sprung to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew, like the down of a thistle:
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of town-
Happy Christmas to STERETT, and to all a good standdown.
Photo by BMSN David Mashburn