JOHN EGGERS COLUMN: Fill in the blanks of "A Visit From St. Nicholas"

The poem was later given the title, “Twas the night before Christmas.” How many times have you heard or read it?

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Clement Clarke Moore wrote “A Visit From St. Nicholas” in 1823. It was published that same year on December 23. He did not admit authorship until 1837. The poem was later given the title, “Twas the night before Christmas.” How many times have you heard or read it? The answer is many, many times. But how well do you really know it? I have left out some of the words. Can you guess what they are?

"Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

not a creature was stirring, not even a 1. _____.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.


The children were nestled all snug in their 2. ____,

while visions of sugar 3.______ danced in their heads.

And Mama in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,

had just settled our 4. ____ for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the roof there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the 5. ____ I flew like a flash,

tore open the shutter, and threw up the sash.


The moon on the breast of the new-fallen 6. ____

gave the lustre of midday to objects below,

when, what to my wondering 7. ____ should appear,

but a 8. _____ sleigh and eight tiny 9.____

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,

I knew in a moment it must be 10. ____

More rapid than eagles, his coursers they came,

and he whistled and shouted and called them by 11.____:


'Now Dasher! Now Dancer!

Now, Prancer and Vixen!

On, Comet! On, Cupid!

On, Donner and 12. ____!

To the top of the porch!

To the top of the wall!

Now dash away! Dash away!

Dash away all!'


As dry 13. ____that before the wild hurricane fly,

when they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky

so up to the house-top the coursers they flew,

with the 14. ____ full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof

the prancing and pawing of each little 15.____.

As I drew in my head and was turning around,

down the 16. ____ St. Nicholas came with a bound.


He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,

and his clothes were all covered with ashes and 17. ____.

A bundle of 18. ____ he had flung on his back,

and he looked like a 19. ____ just opening his pack.

His eyes–how they twinkled! His dimples, how merry!

His cheeks were like roses, his 20. ____ like a cherry!

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,

and the beard on his chin was as white as the 21. ____.


The stump of a 22. ____ he held tight in his teeth,

and the smoke it encircled his head like a 23. ____.

He had a broad face and a little round 24.____,

that shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old 25. ____,

and I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself.

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head

soon gave me to know I had nothing to 26.____.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

and filled all the 27. ____, then turned with a jerk.

And laying his finger aside of his nose,

and giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.

He sprang to his 28. ____, to his team gave a whistle,

And away they all flew like the down of a 29. ____.

But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,

“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good 30. ____!”

Answers: 1. mouse, 2. beds, 3. plums, 4. brains, 5. window, 6. snow, 7. eyes, 8. miniature, 9. reindeer, 10. St. Nick, 11. name, 12. Blitzen, 13. leaves, 14. sleigh, 15. hoof, 16. chimney, 17. soot, 18. toys, 19. peddler, 20. nose, 21. snow, 22. pipe, 23. wreath, 24. belly, 25. elf, 26. dread, 27. stockings, 28. sleigh, 29. thistle, 30. night. How did you do? You probably got most correct but missed a few of the tough ones.

Moore’s father was an Episcopal Bishop who served as president of, what is now, Columbia University. The date 1823 is also important for Beltrami County residents. Beltrami County had a visitor during that summer by the name of Giacomo Beltrami who came to this area from Italy to look for the source of the Mississippi. Thanks to people from Red Lake, they took him to Lake Julia. But that’s another story and I have told it many times. The 1823 date is an important one because it does mark the appearance of what has to be one of America’s most often quoted poems.

Moore originally wrote the poem for his children. He was from New York and there is a park in the city named after him. Residents gather annually on the last Sunday of Advent for a reading of, yes, ”Twas the Night Before Christmas.” He died in 1863 at the age of 83.

Riddle: What do you call a person who is afraid of Santa Claus? (Answer: Claustrophobic). Young children can be afraid of Santa Claus. This is a good reason for making it a Christmas ritual to read to them “The Night Before Christmas.”


I hope 100% of our children experienced a fun Christmas. Certainly they deserve it.

John R. Eggers of Bemidji is a former university professor and area principal. He also is a writer and public speaker.

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