'Twas the Night Before
the Morning After

by Dave Barry

 	'Twas the night before X-mas

 	Or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or whatever religious holiday your particular 
	family unit celebrates at this time of year via mass retail purchases

 	And all through the house

	Not a creature was stirring

 	Except Dad, who was stirring his third martini

 	In a losing effort to remain in a holiday mood

 	As he attempted to assemble a toy for his 9-year-old son, Bobby

 	It was a highly complex toy

 	A toy that Dad did not even begin to grasp the purpose of

 	A toy that cost more than Dad's first car

 	A toy that was advertised relentlessly on TV with a little 
	statement in the corner of the TV screen that said 

 	Which was like saying that the Titanic sustained 
	"some water damage"

 	Because this toy had more parts than the Space Shuttle

 	And speaking of space

 	Dad was now convinced that extraterrestrial life did indeed exist

 	Because the assembly instructions were clearly written by 
	beings from another galaxy

 	And these beings insisted on Phillips screwdrivers

 	And Dad could not find his Phillips screwdriver

 	In fact, he was wondering who "Phillips" was

 	And why he needed a different kind of screwdriver than everybody 

	That was the festive holiday thought that Dad was thinking as he 
	took a slug from his martini and attempted to attach Part 3047-b 
	to Part 3047-c

 	Using a steak knife

 	But other than that, not a creature was stirring in the house

 	Although Mom was definitely stirring OUT of the house

 	Mom was at the Toys "R" Us store

 	In fact, this was the fifth Toys ``R'' Us store that Mom had been 
	to that night

 	In her desperate quest to find the one thing that their 5-year-old 
	daughter, Suzy, wanted this holiday season

 	It was, of course, a Barbie doll

 	But not just ANY Barbie doll

 	It had to be the new model

 	Abdominals Barbie

 	The one who came with her own little pink stomach-muscle-exercise 

	It was the hottest Barbie doll of all this holiday season

 	Every girl age 3 through 12 in the entire United States HAD to have 

 	Or her holiday season would be RUINED

 	And so of course the Mattel Corporation

	Which is run by evil trolls from hell

 	Had manufactured exactly eight units of this doll

 	And the very last one in the world was in this particular Toys "R" Us

 	Which means that the odds were against Mom

 	Because on this same festive night

 	Thousands of other frantic parents had converged on this same store

 	Kind of like the flesh-eating zombies in the movie Night of the 
	Living Dead 

 	Only less ethical

 	The store was a war zone

 	Mom had to fight her way into the doll aisle

 	Where, wielding a Tonka Truck like a club

 	She claimed her prize

 	And then, trailed by a screaming mob of rival parents

 	She raced from the store, leaped into her car and roared out of 
	the parking lot

 	Barely missing the Salvation Army person

 	She raced back to the house, burst through the front door and 
	staggered into the family room

 	Where she found Dad

 	Actually she found Dad's feet

 	The rest of Dad was under the sofa

 	A strange gurgling sound was coming from down there

 	Dad, now on his fifth martini

 	Was trying to strangle the dog

 	Which, Dad was convinced, had eaten Part 8675-y

 	And just at that very moment

 	Out on the lawn there arose such a clatter

 	That Dad let go of the dog

 	And he and Mom went to the window to see what was the matter

 	And what to their wondering eyes should appear

 	But Santa Claus, yelling the names of reindeer

 	"Now Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Vixen! Now . . . Umm . . . 
	Now . . . Dancer!''

 	"He already said Dancer," observed Dad

 	"He can't remember them all," said Mom

	"I think one of them is Pluto," said Dad

 	"Wasn't Pluto the guy who was always fighting with Popeye?" 
	said Mom

 	"You're thinking of Bluto," said Dad

	"Now . . . Umm . . . Now Flicka!" said Santa

 	"Flicka was a horse, that I DO know," said Mom

 	"Do you think the reindeer are wrecking the lawn?" said Dad

 	"They're going up on the roof," said Mom

 	"Like hell they are," said Dad, who had recently spent $875 on 
	shingle repair

 	But before he could yell at St. Nicholas to stop

 	Down the chimney the jolly elf came with a plop

 	He had a broad face and a round little belly

 	That shook when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly

 	Which was pretty gross

 	"What's so funny?" asked Dad

 	"You two," said St. Nick. "Why are you getting all upset about 
	toys? The holiday season isn't about material possessions!"

 	"Do you have kids?" asked Mom

 	"Well, no," said Santa

 	"Hah," said Mom

 	"But I am beloved by children the world over," said Santa

 	"Well," said Dad, "you won't be beloved by our son if I can't 
	assemble this toy"

 	"What seems to be the problem?" said Santa, coming over to have 
	a look

 	"I'm stuck on Step 824," said Dad

 	"Who wrote these instructions?" asked Santa. "Martians?"

 	"Apparently," said Dad

 	"I used to be pretty good with tools," said Santa.  "Hand me that 
	steak knife" 

	"Sure," said Dad. "Care for a martini?" 

 	"Heck yes," said Santa

 	And so he went to work

 	And after a while Mom and Dad, exhausted, went to bed

 	Leaving old St. Nick in the family room

 	He said some pretty unsaintly words

 	But he eventually got Bobby's toy assembled

 	And although he spent so much time that he was unable to visit 
	the rest of the little boys and girls in North America

 	Not to mention South America, Europe, Asia and Africa

 	This particular household had a very happy X-mas morning indeed

 	When Suzy came downstairs and saw Abdominals Barbie

 	And Bobby came downstairs and saw his incredibly complex toy

 	Which he broke in under four minutes

 	A new holiday record

 	But it was still a festive day

 	Especially when Mom and Dad told the fantastic story of their 
	late-night visitor

 	Which, at first, the kids did not believe

 	In fact, even Mom and Dad were not 100 percent sure it had happened

 	Until Dad got out the ladder

 	And one by one they climbed up to the roof

 	And there they saw it . . . 

 	As real as life . . . 

 	A Holiday Miracle . . . 

 	Reindeer poop.

 	(And $1,097.36 worth of shingle damage.)  

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