And all through the ship, not a creature was
stirring, not even a <snip>
It was the night prior to the celebration of
the birth of Jesus Christ (despite historical records placing
his birth some three months later in the year, and four years
earlier than was popularly ascribed), and throughout the domicile,
no life-forms were awake or otherwise aware, including the
species Mus musculus. Each person had carefully mounted
their foot warmers next to the chimney, still maintaining
faith in the proposition that there would be a fictitious
visitor from the North Pole who would deposit presents within
said foot warmers.
The younger beings were already asleep, and
while I cannot say what their dream imagery comprised, I have
found in my research that hard candies are often involved.
I was situated in Archer's mother's bedroom, as her demise
seven years ago had left it vacant, and it would not be prudent
for me to share sleeping quarters with an alien. I was dressed
in my sleeping clothes and was preparing to sleep.
I was unable to fall asleep, however, as a
loud noise sounded on the roof. As I was concerned and curious,
I walked over to the window and opened it so that I might
be able to see what had caused the commotion.
The moon was full, providing enough illumination
for me to view what had presumably caused the noise. I have
no explanation for what I witnessed, as I had not consumed
enough wine to cause me to become intoxicated. It appeared
as though a small sleigh was being drawn through the air by
eight Rangifer tarandu.
The driver of the sleigh appeared to resemble
the illustrations I have seen of the mythical being "Father
Christmas." The being drew closer, and I heard a voice
"Now Dasher! Now Dancer! Now, Prancer
and Vixen! On, Comet! On, Cupid! On, Donner and Blitzen! To
the top of the porch! To the top of the wall! Now dash away!
Dash away! Dash away all!"
Before I could make sense of his strange declarations,
the sled increased its velocity and landed on the roof. The
clacks made by the ungulates were quite distinct. I decided
to research the vintage and name of the wine in the morning.
I heard more rumblings in the wall behind my bed, which was
adjacent to the chimney. I have no excuse for my next actions,
not even scientific inquiry, as there is nothing scientific
about what is supposed to happen on this night. I went downstairs.
I saw a human male dressed in red fabric and
white fur trim, though it was slightly soiled by soot and
ashes. He was carrying a large sack, from which he was transferring
small packages into the foot warmers.
He turned to look at me. Evidently, his hearing
was as good as mine. He appeared to be inebriated as well,
judging by how much blood was flowing in his nose and cheeks.
He was smiling widely at me, and I noticed that he was smoking
indoors, which is an incredibly foolish idea. He laughed,
and the way his torso shook was an indication that he was
I blinked twice. He winked at me, and then
the strangest thing happened. I did not mind his presence
in Archer's home any longer. I cannot say why this happened
He continued to fill the foot warmers, and
once he had finished, he stepped into the chimney and somehow
was sucked up through it. The only explanation I have for
this is he has a portable wormhole, which is no more likely
than Father Christmas making what is colloquially referred
to as "house calls."
I walked to the window, hearing him call out,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"
The next morning, I verified that the wine
was only two decades old, and not unusually potent. The gifts
in the foot warmers proved his existence well enough.
I must make a report of this. If we were to
harness the energy source he uses to power his sleigh, interstellar
technology could be vastly improved.
Boy, do I remember Christmas at home! Once when
I was worried about what Santa might bring me for Christmas,
my father said, "Son, don't be afraid of the wind."
I still don't understand what he meant by that, but Mom just
said, "It's the Vulcans. They've meddled with your father's
research again. Go to bed and I'll come and read you some
We'd finally cleaned up from the big Christmas
Eve open house. Mama made homemade tortellini with that great
pesto sauce, and we also had turkey roast with gravy, cranberry
sauce, mashed potatoes and parsnips, peas with little pearl
onions, ambrosia, pecan pie, and Mal brought some big English
pudding with fruit and cream and ladyfingers soaked with whiskey
in a nice glass dish. I was full as a tick and sleepin' it
off. Nothin' would have bothered me short of a warp core overload,
but the house was a quiet as a dead transmitter on the far
side of the moon.
On 24 Dec at approximately 2300 hours, the infrared motion
detectors were operative, the door and window security locks
registered no positive indications, and the fire, smoke, and
radon detectors were all operating in a negative mode. Crew
had retired for the night, and unfortunately, no watch had
been set. Indications of pests were negative, although complete
absence could not be guaranteed.
Hoshi, the short version
Era la noche antes de Navidad
Kein Geschöpf rührte sich, eine Maus nicht zu glätten.
I bambini hanno appeso con attenzione le calze dal camino.
Zij hoopten dat Sinterklaas daar spoedig zou zijn.
Hoshi, the long version
'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
Los niĖos se acomodaron en sus lechitos
Ya soĖando de caramelitos;
Mamá con su manta, y yo con un gorro de pluma de ganso
Nos alistamos para un largo descanso.
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
Der Mond auf der Brust vom neugefallenen Schnee
Hat den Glanz des Mittags zu Objekten, so Ich sehe,
Und Ich seufze, "Was haben wir hier,
Oder ein Miniaturschlitten, und acht winziges Rentier."
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
"Now, DASHER! now, DANCER! now, PRANCER
On, COMET! on CUPID! on, DONDER and BLITZEN!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"
Como secas folhas antes um furacčo,
Ou gatos que correm ante un cčo,
Subem ellos ao teto, rápidos como un coelho
Com o trenó cheio de brinquedos, também e o velho.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
K’ita runahina, mana ponchoyoq
His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
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 dread;
Il reste en silence, et travaille tout
Enfin il a rempli tous les bas.
Il place son doigt de côté de son nez,
Et avec un signe de tźte, en haut il est élevé ;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
"HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD-NIGHT!"
Christmas eve at home
Still, quiet sleepers at rest
Mice silent as me.
Dear Feezal, Massim, Tural, Kawmis, and Orilu,
Hello! I have been well. My animals, especially
the sandworms, are all healthy. Maddy -- you remember her?
Travis' chameleon -- has recently shed her skin. Don't worry,
Tural, I saved it to make that facial cream you like.
I'm sorry for the delay between letters. Forgive
me for that. I spent almost two weeks on Terra with Doctor
Lucas and his family, and could not find the time to compose
a missive to you.
The emphasis Terrrans place on their midwinter
holidays ad the associated traditions has continued throughout
their history without much change, much like our Festival
of the Waterships. Not wanting to be a rude guest, I participated
in almost all of the activities that were proposed. Some of
the more interesting ones were going around the neighborhood
and singing songs, creating snow sculptures, decorating a
coniferous tree, and well-choreographed fights with small
balls made out of snow.
The night before the actual celebration of
the birth of their deity Jesus Christ -- Massim, you're the
sociologist; is it common for deities to be born to normal
people? -- was one of the more festive occasions I've attended
recently. Many small rituals took place, including hanging
socks on the shelf above the fireplace. We were told to go
to sleep early so that Santa Claus would arrive, as he doesn't
come when you're awake.
I was in the upstairs study, as my hibernation
cycle isn't due for another six weeks. I was reading another
of James Herriot's books, It Shouldn't Happen To A Vet
-- I simply must bring some of them home with me -- until
I was distracted by a loud noise outside. I went over to the
window to investigate. The moon was full and I could see everything
easily, even though I didn't believe what I was looking at:
a sleigh flying through the air, pulled by eight reindeer.
They're sort of like damicrels, but with larger horns and
shorter legs. I could also see the driver of the sleigh. At
this point, I was convinced that the festivities had been
too much for me and I was hallucinating. I was of mixed emotions
about that, since while hallucinations are ordinarily a good
thing, the last visions I had were not under pleasant circumstances.
I could also hear him whistle, for some reason.
He called out, and I can only assume that it was to the reindeer:
"Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen! On,
Comet! On Cupid! On, Donder and Blitzen! To the top of the
porch! To the top of the wall! Now dash away! Dash away! Dash
Now I wasn't certain what to make of this,
as the only other time I've experienced hallucinations what
I saw made a reasonable amount of sense. Before I had the
chance to really think about this, the sled sped past my window
and landed on the roof. The impact of this caused the pictures
on the walls to shake.
I wasn't certain of what was happening. I remembered
some of the stories I'd been told by my hosts about Santa
Claus, and went downstairs to see if these hallucinations
of mine were as detailed as Grandmother Nedda's were -- she
once spent an afternoon seasick without leaving her bedroom.
It appeared that the stories were correct.
He had on a red and white suit that was dusted with ashes,
was depositing small gifts in the stockings. He turned to
look at me, and I could tell it was quite cold outside from
all the blood in his cheeks. He was also smoking a pipe of
"Those are quite unhealthy for you,"
I pointed out.
He laughed, causing his stomach to shake easily.
"I've been smoking these for so long I don't think it'll
make much of a difference if I stop now."
"How long has it been?"
He paused to consider. "Twenty centuries
or so, I think."
I didn't believe him, but he smiled and laughed
in a way which cheered me immensely. I didn't say anything
more, but before he left, he told me, "Happy Christmas
to all, and to all a good night!"
He left by the front door, and I closed it
after him. The next morning, the soot prints on the rug were
proof enough that I hadn't hallucinated anything, because
the Terrans saw them as well.
In my stocking, I got a tube of the toothpaste
I like and a black beret that I saw almost two months ago
and didn't get.
Terrans are truly remarkable beings.
Best wishes and happy Christmas,
It's sleeping time but everyone smells very
excited and Hunter Male smells so good, his hands were
in sugar and eggs and fat. Alpha Male has put treats for
in the back of the dresser and I can hardly stand it knowing
that they're there. I don't know why he won't give them
me right now. It's very quiet and I lie on my bed at the
foot of Alpha Male's bed. And if some strange, dangerous-smelling
thing comes in I will wake Alpha Male up and he'll get Guardian
Male and we'll protect the pack from any strange-smelling
thing which tries to bother us. But I don't smell anything
like that now so I go to sleep.
Shran, the short version
It was the night before the birthday of the
revered Earth warrior diety, Mithras, born near that planet's
winter solstice from a magical rock, and the silence was proof
enough that all vermin had been eradicated.... What? Not born
from a rock? You pinkskins have more than one deity born on
that day? The duplicity! The Andorian High Command won't stand
for this sort of trickery and double dealing. Tell Archer
Shran, the long version
All through the ship, no Vulcans could be spotted,
although we thought they might be spying on us from a remote
outpost. You can't trust them. As it was, we had put up our
boot linings for a Terran called "Santa Claus" to
deposit gifts in. Archer talked me into it for a bet, saying
that I wouldn't put them up and leave them there for more
than a night.
We'd been told he wouldn't come if you were
awake, but none of us were willing to take any risks. Talas
was especially concerned, so the two of us were checking the
long-range scanners. Not that I don't trust my engineers,
but sometimes it's better to do it yourself.
It turned out that it was a good thing I was
there, because otherwise the little disturbance would have
been overlooked. I went over to check, but what I saw made
me think that it was some kind of deliberate sabotage of our
systems. I'd told her not to trust that Reed any more than
There was a sort of tiny ship coming from behind
the second moon of the planet we were orbiting. It wasn't
much bigger than an asteroid but had the largest energy reading
of anything I'd ever seen --it had to be a fake of some sort,
as nothing could have that much energy and be that small.
Talas couldn't believe it either, and neither
could Keval or Thon. There wasn't a warp trail but there was
more energy than a supernova coming out of this thing. I'd
have called the Vulcans or the Terrans in on this and accused
them of sabotaging our systems if it didn't hail us.
It definitely had to be a fake. We hadn't opened
a channel. It kept sending out a signal: "On Dasher!
Now Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen! On Comet! On Cupid! On
Donder and Blitzen!"
Forget diplomacy, this was sabotage if there
ever was any. Multiple systems, too: comms, long-range scanners
--there was no way there could be nine life-forms on that
ship --- and visual
How could it be showing up there as well? What
was this thing? In all likelihood, it was a combination of
a small probe and deliberate tinkering with the systems. The
Vulcans weren't creative enough for this, so the only ones
that could want to do something along these lines were the
pink-skins. But this made no sense; they wanted to be our
allies, why ruin a potential diplomatic relationship?
I was about to send out a message when the
probe began to pick up speed and started to zoom towards us.
They didn't do anything. We could only watch
as this little ship somehow sped through them. What could
do this? Some kind of Klingon device? Had the Vulcans developed
this in secret?
We didn't have time to speculate as it sped
towards us. Not taking any chances, we aimed and fired.
Nothing! It was still there, after a direct
shot with a photon torpedo! What is this thing?
Then it stopped. It remained right inside our
shields. We were about to shoot again when a familiar hum
made me turn around in surprise.
The strangest alien I've ever seen transported
right behind us. It was almost completely covered in red and
white fabric, even something covering up its head -- I've
never been able to understand the concept of "hats,"
and this one looked like it didn't serve any purpose whatsoever,
making it even more unusual. It had a gigantic sack with him
that looked like it was completely full.
There was hair coming down its chin, paler
than mine. Its nose was almost as red as its suit -- was it
sick? It looked like it was smoking some sort of pipe, but
I couldn't tell.
Talas had her pistol out a moment later, a
second before me. "How did you get through our shields?"
It laughed. How could it laugh? Seven pistols
pointed at it, and it laughed. What was this? Was I hallucinating?
Somehow, it didn't seem like it. I doubt anything
I can come up with would include a strange alien winking at
me, but it did just that.
We followed it to where we'd hung our boot-linings,
not quite certain what to do. We couldn't see what it was
doing but it looked like it was putting things in them.
It disappeared a moment later, after turning
to us and smiling -- not that I could tell easily, not with
all the facial hair. It also cried out the strangest thing
I've ever heard: "Happy Christmas to all, and to all
a good night!"
The probe left faster than it had come, and
all we could do was stare.
A moment later we scrabbled to the systems,
checking out everything we could and trying to make sense
of what had just happened. When we presented the evidence
to Archer, he couldn't believe it either. He did manage to
convince me that he hadn't done anything, and neither had
any other species.
His engineer tried to explain what had happened,
only being marginally successful. I wasn't willing to believe
in something as absurd as a Santa Claus.
I was, however, willing to believe in the stuffed
illumer in my boot-lining -- I've wanted one ever since I