Clement Clarke Moore and The Cats Who Saved Christmas

We all know the Christmas poem, “Twas The Night Before Christmas”. What is less known, however, is the author of this verse which makes up a great part of our Christmas traditions and customs – certainly in the UK and the US. The poem – originally entitled “A Visit From Saint Nicholas” – was first published on December 23, 1823 in New York’s “Troy Sentinel”. When it first appeared, no name was attached to it, and it wasn’t until thirteen years later that a professor and poet by the name of Clement Clarke Moore, claimed authorship of the verse. He said that his housekeeper, with neither his knowledge nor permission, had sent the poem that he had written for his children, to the newspaper. In 1844, the family of a man named Henry Livingston Jr. claimed that their father had been reciting the self same poem, “A Visit From Saint Nicholas” to them for fifteen years before it was published. The Livingston family even said they had proof – a dated, handwritten copy of the poem with all the marks and revisions. Unfortunately, the Livingston family house burned down, taking any proof that may or may not have existed, with it. And so, until evidence is provided to prove otherwise, “A Visit From Saint Nicholas”, now ubiquitously known as “Twas The Night Before Christmas”, is attributed to Clement Clarke Moore. Thus, my poem, “The Cats Who Saved Christmas”, is my attempt at a Christmas verse in the style of Mr. Clement Clarke Moore. 


‘Twas the night before Christmas,

And all through the house

Not a creature was stirring

Not even a mouse.

(Well, with a house full of cats

It has to be said

The mice would be daft

To venture from bed!)


The twinkling lights

On our tree in the corner,

Lit up the fairy

As if to adorn her.

And our big old cat George,

From his milk bowl did lumber,

As the cats and I

Drifted off into slumber.


When all at once I was woken

By the sound of a hoof,

Tapping ever so gently

On the snow covered roof.

“What on earth could that be?”

I said to myself.

When from the roof there came tumbling

A colourful elf.


I opened the window

And said, “Are you all right?

Whatever brings you here

On this cold Christmas night?”

He said, “I’ve brought Santa,

His reindeers are fickle.

They won’t pull the sleigh

And he’s in a right pickle.


“There’s hundreds and hundreds

Of good girls and boys

Who’ll wake up in the morning

Without any toys”

“You’d better come in then”

Said I to the elf,

And I couldn’t help but giggle

In spite of myself.


He picked himself up

And brushed himself off,

Straightened his tunic

And gave a small cough.

Then he jumped up to the window,

But tumbled back on the floor.

I said “Maybe it’s easier

If I just open the door”


“You say you’ve brought Santa

But where is he?” said I,

When all of a sudden

I heard a loud cry.

It began in the chimney

And continued apace,

Then into the hearth tumbled Santa

With soot on his face.


“You’d think that by now

I’d have the hang of that.”

He said as he shook out

The soot from his hat.

“I’m in a right pickle

My reindeer’s say they are sick”

And he sat there so solemn,

This not-so-jolly Saint Nick.


Poor Santa!

He did look ever so sad,

And you could tell that his little

Elf helper felt bad.

Then Santa revealed

Why they’d come all this way.

“Could I borrow your cats

To save Christmas Day?”


“Well of course!” I replied

With a startled cry,

“But how on earth are you going

To make my cats fly?”

“With pixie dust” said Santa,

“Though I’m ever so fond

Of a few magic words

And I’m a whizz with a wand”


So up on the roof

My cats did assemble,

All excited and happy

And all of a tremble.

Ever so gently

They were hitched to the sleigh,

Santa sprinkled the pixie dust

And they were away!


Georgie and Oscar,

And Tigger and Kitty,

Ringo and Dusty

Looking ever so pretty.

There was Monkey and Bertie,

And Big Teddy too!

Bosie, Mikki and Alfie

And that still left a few!


Gingie and Snorky

Brought up the rear,

While Bubbles meowed loudly

For the whole world to hear.

Then there was Carino,

The new cat of the house,

Up at the front

With Honey Mouse.


Off they all flew

With their cargo of toys,

To deliver to the houses

Of good girls and boys.

All through the night

They flew the world over,

From Timbuktu

To the White Cliffs of Dover.


And when at last

Their night’s work was all done,

They returned to my rooftop

Where they’d begun.

“I knew so many cats

Would one day be handy”

Said I to Santa

As I gave him a brandy.


Santa said that my cats

Had been most well behaved,

And we all raised a toast

Because Christmas was saved!

Then we hugged one another,

And said our farewells,

As the church in the distance

Began ringing its bells.


Soon the whole world

Would be stretching and yawning,

And bidding glad tidings

On Christmas morning.

Back in bed with my cats

I flicked out the light.

“Merry Christmas to all

And to all, a goodnight!”



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