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A Final Visit From Saint Nicholas

                       'Twas the night before Christmas and one thing was clear--
                           that old Yuletide spirit no longer was here
                           inflation was rising; the crime rate was tripling;
                           the fuel bills were up, and our mortgage was crippling;
                           I opened a beer as I watched TV,
                           where Donny sang "O Holy Night" to Marie;
                           the kids were in bed, getting sleep like they should;
                           or else they were stoned, which was almost as good.
                           While Ma with her ball-point was making a fuss
                           'bout folks we'd send cards to who'd sent none to us;
                           "Those ingrates," she thundered, and pounded her fist;
                           "Next year you can bet they'll be crossed off our list!"
                           When out in the yard came a deafening blare;
                           'twas our burgler alarm, and I hollered, "Who's there?"
                           I turned on the searchlight, which lit up the night,
                           and, armed with my handgun, beheld a strange sight.
                           Some red-suited clown with a white beard immense
                           was caught in our eight foot electrified fence;
                           he called out, "I'm Santa!  I bring you no malice!"
                           Said I, "if you're Santa, I'm Telly Savalas!"
                           But, lo, as his pressence grew clear to me,
                           I saw in the glare that it just might be he!
                           called off our doberman clawing his sleigh
                           and, frisking him twice, said, "I think he's ok."
                           I led him inside where he slumped in a chair,
                           and he poured out the following tale of dispair;
                           "On Christmas eves past I was jolly and chuckling,
                           but now 'neath the pressures, I fear I am buckling."
                           "You'll note I've arrived with no reindeer this year,
                           and without them, my sleigh is much harder to steer;
                           although I would like to continue to use them,
                           the wildlife officials believe I abuse them."
                           "To add to my problem, Ralph Nader dropped by
                           and told me my sleigh was unsafe in the sky;
                           I now must wear seatbelts, despite my objections,
                           and bring in the sleigh twice a year for inspections."
                           "Last April my workers came forth with demands,
                           and I soon had a general strike on my hands;
                           I couldn't afford to pay unionized elves,
                           so the missus and I did the work ourselves."
                           "And then, later on, came additional trouble--
                           an avalanche left my fine workshop in rubble;
                           my Allstate insurance was worthless, because
                           they had shrewdly slipped in a 'no avalanche' clause."
                           "And after that came an I.R.S audit;
                           the government claimed I was out to defraud it;
                           they finally nailed me for 65 grand,
                           which I paid through the sale of my house and my land."
                           "And yet I persist, though it gives me a scare
                           flying blind through the blanket of smog in the air;
                           not to mention the hunters who fill me with dread,
                           taking shots at my sleigh as I pass overhead."
                           "My torn-up red suit, and these bruises and swellings,
                           I got fighting muggers in multiple dwellings.
                           And if you should ask  why I'm glowing tonight,
                           it's from flying too close to a nuclear site."
                           He rose from his chair and he heaved a great sigh,
                           and I couldn't help notice a tear in his eye;
                           "I've tried," he declared, "to reverse each defeat,
                           but I fear that today I've become obsolete."
                           He slumped out the door and returned to his sleigh,
                           and these last words he spoke as he went on his way;
                           "no longer can I do the job that's required;
                            if anyone asks, just say, 'Santa's retired!'".

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