‘Twas the Night Before Weihnachten

Two Russian singers with accordians
Read by the author / Intro and outro by Zapsplat

‘Twas the night before Weihnachten
And all through the city
The shops were all decorated
And lookin’ real pretty.

I hopped on the train
And rode into town
To pick up some presents
And just hang around.

The voice said Marienplatz
The doors opened wide
I hopped onto the platform
With a purposeful stride.

Then a man pushed past me
Hey, what’s the big deal?
Show some Christmas spirit
In front of the Glockenspiel.

I gathered my courage
And went up the stairs
Where the huge Christmas market
Was presenting its wares.

The pedestrian zone
Was so noisy and packed
I took a deep breath
Lest I overreact.

‘Twas alive, full of people,
Red-cheeked and a-bustle
Cheerier than the usual
Everyday urban hustle.

After my shopping
I settled down at a stand
With a packet of sweets
And my bags in one hand.

And from my small table
My eyes started to roam
Surveying the place
That I now call home.

From the wine I was drinking,
Which was delightfully mulled
I have to admit
To being somewhat lulled.

For then something came
That I should’ve foreseen
Encouraged by locals
Part of the Christmas scene.

A noise from behind me
Rose up to the sky
Its source soon became clear
As its creators drew nigh.

Christkindlmarkt tourists
A dozen – no, more!
They walked in a group
Far too loud to ignore.

Italians and Spaniards
Americans and Asians
Folks from next door
And from faraway nations.

They traveled in pairs
In families, in groups
Fluttering and squawking
Like chickens in coops.

They bought Christmas ornaments
They crunched sugary nuts
They slurped the mulled wine
And ate chocolate donuts.

I held my mug tight
As they swarmed all around
There was nowhere to stand
No space to be found.

“Aren’t these cute?”
Said a woman
“And pricey,” said he
“But won’t they look great
On our big Christmas tree?”

He took out his wallet
And shelled out some money
“If it makes you happy,” he sighed
“Here you go, honey!”

The Italians were talking
And gesturing loud
It’s not hard to identify
Them in a crowd.

The Asians took selfies
And spared no gyrations
In threesomes and foursomes
In all combinations.

I stood in the corner
Still clutching my mug
Feeling slightly superior
And a little bit smug.

But as I watched them
The throngs of tourists o’r yonder
I grew a mite pensive
And started to ponder.

Their friends back at home
Would get photos galore
Of the trinkets, the buildings
The magnificent stores.

But would they remember
The things they had seen?
Was it Munich, Neuschwanstein
Or a town in between?

The sun had now set
The market lights all lit up
As the mob grew yet larger
I’d now had enough.

I pushed through the people
To the uppermost stair
To the mouth of the station
At the side of the square.

As I turned ‘round the corner
To escape the big crowd
I suddenly heard music
Grow increasingly loud.

It was Ivan and Vladimir
A baritone and a bass
White Russians in uniform
I came to the right place.

This was more like Christmas
It was music and joy
A language universal
To every girl and boy.

They sang loud and clear
Their voices rang true
But what did they sing?
I cannot tell you.

For they sang only Russian
In old Soviet uniforms
Complete with brimmed hats
For non-existent snowstorms.

Smartphones in the air
People soaked up their melody
Such a beautiful duo
It was quite nearly heavenly.

The multitude swelled
Pressing in ever closer
I decided to leave
Lest I lose my composure.

I adjusted my backpack
That was enough Christmas stuff
I just wanted to go home
And relax on my duff.

Full of good Christmas thoughts
All pumped up with good cheer
I wished: Frohe Weihnachten to all
And a Happy New Year!

by Brenda Arnold, with a nod to Clement Clarke Moore

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