‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the trees;
The night creatures scurried through the winter breeze;
Magnolia leaves hung to their branches with care;
While bald cypress needles left their limbs quite bare.
The State Foresters were nestled, all snug in their beds;
While visions of sweetgum trees danced in their heads;
And the American black bears, who’d felt a cold snap;
Had just settled down for a short winter’s nap.
When up on a hill, there arose such a clatter;
The bears sprang from their den to see what was the matter;
Away through the forest, they flew like a flash;
Ran through the palmetto, right down past the ash.
As they sniffed the cool air ‘mid a light fall of snow;
They heard the clip clop of a buck or a doe;
When, what to their keen nighttime eyes should appear;
But a red cedar sleigh, and fifteen whitetail deer.
With a little old driver, so lively and quick;
They knew in a moment it must be St. Nick;
More rapid than peregrine falcons they came;
He whistled, and shouted, and called them by name.
“Now, Texas! Now, Arkansas, F-L and Georgia!
On, South Carolina, Kentucky, Virginia!
Now, Okie, T-N, P-R, V-I and Bama!
On, Mississipp’! On, N-C and Louisiana!
To the top of the white oaks and loblollies tall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”
So up to the Blue Ridge the coursers they flew;
With a sleigh full of seedlings and wooden gifts too;
Then down to the Red Hills where the longleaf thrive;
And out past the Bayou, through the Lonestar sky.
And then, in a twinkling, his sleigh nestled down
To drop off some toys in a “Firewise” town;
A dollhouse, a guitar, a train made from lumber;
And books made of paper for those as they slumber.
His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks like camellias or sand holly berry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow;
And his beard was as white as a new cotton boll.
And then in an instant, he jumped on a dozer;
An enchanted wink bid the fire plow to lower;
Around and around the forest so brisk;
Cutting fire lines to reduce wildfire risk.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work;
And completing the bound’ry line, turned with a jerk;
Then laying his finger aside of his nose;
And giving a nod, leapt down on his toes.
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle;
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle;
But we heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight;
“Merry Christmas SGSF, and to y’all a good-night!”