One of my favorite Christmas memories as a child was reading ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore (1779-1863). By the time I was nine, I had it memorized by heart. In 1992, when Bethany was just a baby, Rick’s mom and dad gave her a beautifully illustrated version of the book. When the kids were younger, we would read it together each Christmas at least several times.
The second or third Christmas we spent in Jordan, I decided to write a Jordanian version of it for the kids. I tried to improve it a little and want to share it with y’all. I’m certainly a very amateur poet, but hopefully it will put a smile on your faces, especially all of you who have spent time in Jordan.
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even my spouse.
The stockings were hung on the khazani with care, in hopes that Baba Noel soon would be there.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of mlubasaat danced in their heads;
And Dad in his PJs and I in my nightie, had just settled down to hopefully sleep tightie.
When out on the street there arose such a clatter, I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter. Away to the window I flew like a flash, pulled open the abajoor and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the thick film of dust gave a luster of midday making frequent cleaning a must, when what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a miniature pick-up and eight tiny camels, with a little old driver so lively and well, I knew in a moment it must be Baba Noel.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came, and he whistled and shouted and called them by name: “Now Boulos! Now, Omar! Now Yousef and Kamal! On, Butros! On, Hanna! On, Sami and Jamal! To the top of the balcone! to the top of the wall! Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”
As dry sands that before the wild khamasiini fly, when they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky, so up to the dakhleh the coursers they flew, With a pick-up full of toys, and Baba Noel too.
And then in a twinkling, I heard on the street, the prancing and pawing of little camel’s feet. As I drew in my head and was turning around, up the assensayr Baba Noel came with a bound.
He was dressed in a dishdasheh, from his head to his foot, and his clothes were all tarnished with dust and with dirt. A bundle of toys he had flung on his back, and he looked like a beggar just opening his sack.
His eyes, how they twinkled! His dimples, how merry! His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry! His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow, and the beard on his chin was thick enough to mow. The stump of a cigaara he held tight in his teeth, and the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round buttun that shook when he laughed like a bowl full of laban. He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf, And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself. With a wink of his eye and a twist of his head, and a “Ya Hala” I knew I had nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work, and filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk. And laying his finger aside of his nose, And giving a nod, went out the door on his toes.
He sprang to his pick-up, 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 sight,
“3eid Ilmiilaad Issa3eed wa kul 3aam wa intum bikhair!”