T'was a couple of weeks before Christmas

I was finished decorating the house,

It was cookie batter I was stirring

While thinking about a gift for my spouse.

The washer was going so we wouldn't be walking around bare,

And I was dreading St. Nicholas coming, so soon he would be here.

I hated disappointing my "kids" with yucky bad gifts,

So I wanted perfect presents, with no returns or "what ifs."

But I was pooped from my efforts and felt all my energy sap

I decided to rest my feet and my brain with a short winter's nap.

When all of sudden my dogs started barking,

I sprang from my chair to the window to shush them from harking.

As I turned around to go back to my chair,

You're not going to believe what I saw there.

Some guy was sitting in my recliner,

With the foot rest up and his clothes, I think, were designer.

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

And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.

I started to yell at him to get his dirty clothes off my furniture,

'How rude,' I thought, even though he made quite a picture.

He looked really comfy as he was laying back,

And I couldn't help noticing his big old green sack.

His eyes really twinkled,

And his dimples were so merry!

His cheeks were like roses,

His nose like a cherry!

I thought, this old guy must have been hitting the bottle,

And I wasn't too happy how he made my home like his castle.

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.

I told him "There's no smoking in my smoke-free home,"

And you wouldn't believe what came next from this old gnome.

He laughed, and his belly shook like a bowlful of jelly!

As he caught something funny from Ellen DeGeneres on the telly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,

And I laughed along with him, in spite of myself!

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,

I'm now going to share with you what he said.

"Well Linda, I understand you've been stressing

What to shop for, wondering and guessing.

I seen you at the mall going from store to store

You're making this whole thing quite a tremendous big chore."

"Well what do you suggest?" I asked with a smirk,

"Show up Christmas morning looking like a Scrooge kind of jerk?

Here's my dilemma. I want them to love the presents they get,

Without me spending more than I should and going into debt.

I want them to love me for as long as I live.

And they'll do that if they like what it is that I give."

He spoke not a word, and I could see he was thinking.

I watched him carefully, not even blinking.

He reached for his pack and rummaged around,

Until he seemed satisfied with what he had found.

It was a cookie.

Not chocolate chip or Grandma's sugar roll-outs,

But one like we get when we order Chinese take-outs.

He looked it over and nodded his head,

Then handed it to me, and this is what I read.

"If you're going to give gifts then keep this in mind,

It's what lies in your heart and your love for mankind.

To your enemy, give forgiveness,

To a friend, give your heart,

To a customer, give service

To all, give charity, it's an art.

To every child, be a good example,

To yourself, give respect

These gifts will be ample

And all are perfect."

Then taking his finger and giving his nose a poke,

He ate all of my peanuts and drank the rest of my Coke.

"One more thing," he said as he prepared to leave,

"Those who have not Christmas in their hearts will never find it 'neath a tree."

The next thing I remember, was waking with a start,

'Ah, it was only a dream,' is what I had thought.

Then I spied it laying next to my shoe,

Half of a fortune cookie ... could it have been true?

My mind was at peace, my heart was aflutter

With determination to clear my holiday of clutter.

I'm going to focus on what the season is about,

And like my fur-clad visitor, give it a shout.

Christmas gifts are nice but always remember,

Christmas is year round, not just in December.