TAN: 'Twas the nocturnal ...

Subject: TAN: 'Twas the nocturnal ...
From: Michele Berkes 615-576-2352 <BERKESM -at- A1 -dot- OSTI -dot- GOV>
Date: Tue, 21 Dec 1993 17:04:00 -0400

WARNING: Christmas frivolity enclosed. Those who must refrain from such
activities, delete now.

I found this on a colleague's door and just had to share it with you all. I
considered it a vocabulary exercise, because there were a number of words in
this that I had to look up. (And a few I couldn't find!)


Michele Berkes
berkesm -at- a1 -dot- osti -dot- gov

The Night Before Christmas

'Twas the nocturnal segment of the diurnal period preceding
the annual Yuletide celebration, and throughout our place of
residence, kinetic activity was not in evidence among the
possessors of this potential, including that species of domestic
rodent known as Mus musculus. Hosiery was meticulously suspended
from the forward edge of the wood burning caloric apparatus,
pursuant to our anticipatory pleasure regarding an imminent
visitation from an eccentric philanthropist among whose folkloric
appellations is the honorific Saint Nicholas.
The prepubescent siblings, comfortably ensconced in their
respective accommodations of repose, were experiencing
subconscious visual hallucinations of variegated fruit confections
moving rhythmically through their cerebrums. My conjugal partner
and I, attired in our nocturnal head coverings, were about to take
slumbrous advantage of the hibernal darkness when upon the
avenaceous exterior portion of the grounds there ascended such a
cacophony of dissonance that I felt compelled to arise with
alacrity from my place of repose for the purpose of ascertaining
the precise source thereof.
Hastening to the casement, I forthwith opened the barriers
sealing this fenestration, noting thereupon that the lunar
brilliance without, reflected as it was on the surface of a recent
crystalline precipitation, might be said to rival that of the
solar meridian itself--thus permitting my incredulous optical
sensory organs to behold a miniature airborne runnered conveyance
drawn by eight diminutive specimens of the genus Rangifer, piloted
by a miniscule, aged chauffeur so ebullient and nimble that it
became instantly apparent to me that he was indeed our anticipated
caller. With this ungulate motive power traveling at what may
possibly have been more vertiginous velocity than patriotic
sagacity predicates, he heralded loudly, expelled breath musically
through contracted lips, and addressed each of the octet by his or
her respective cognomen--"Now Dasher, now Dancer . . ." et al.
--guiding them to the uppermost exterior level of our abode,
through which structure I could readily distinguish the
concussions of each of the 32 cloven pedal extremities.
As I retracted my cranium from its erstwhile location and was
performing a 180 degree pivot, our distinguished visitant
achieved--with utmost celerity and via a downward leap--entry by
way of the smoke passage. He was clad entirely in animal pelts
soiled by the ebon residue from oxidations of carboniferous fuels
which had accumulated on the walls thereof. His resemblance to a
street vendor I attributed largely to the plethora of assorted
playthings which he bore dorsally in a commodious cloth
His orbs were scintallant with reflected luminosity, while his
submaxillary dermal indentations gave every evidence of engaging
amiability. The capillaries of his malar regions and nasal
appurtenance were engorged with blood which suffused the
subcutaneous layers, the former approximating the coloration of
Albion's floral emblem, the latter that of the Prunus avium, or
sweet cherry. His amusing fleshy outer region of his oral orifice
resembled nothing so much as a common loop knot, and the hirsute
facial adonment juxtaposed vertically with his oral orifice
appeared like small tabular and columnar crystals of frozen water.
Clenched firmly between his incisors was a smokingpiece whose
grey fumes, forming a tenuous ellipse about his occiput, were
suggestive of a decorative seasonal circlet of holly. His visage
was wider than it was high, and when he waxed amiably mirthful,
his corpulent abdominal region undulated in the manner of
impectinated fruit syrup in a hemispherical container. He was, in
short, neither more nor less than an obese, jocund, multigenarian
gnome, the optical perception of whom rendered me visibly
frolicsome despite every effort to refrain from so being. By
rapidly lowering and then elevating one eyelid and rotating his
head slightly to one side, he indicated that trepidation on my
part was groundless.
Without utterance and with dispatch, he commenced filling the
aforementioned previously dorsally transported cloth receptacle.
Upon completion of this task, he executed an abrupt about-face,
placed a single manual digit in lateral juxtaposition to his
olfactory organ, inclined his cranium forward in a gesture of
leave-taking, and forthwith effected his egress by renegotiating
(in reverse) the smoke passage. He then propelled himself in a
short vector onto his conveyance, directed a musical expulsion of
air through his contracted oral sphincter to the antlered
quadrupeds of burden, and proceeded to soar aloft in a movement
hitherto observable chiefly among the seed-bearing portions of a
common weed. But I overheard his vociferation beyond the limits of
visibility: "Ecstatic Yuletide to the planetary constituency, and
to the selfsame assemblage, my sincerest wishes for a salubriously
beneficial and gratifyingly pleasurable period between sunset and

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