The Crime Before Christmas

As a long-time fan of Sherlock Holmes, I had a blast writing this for a mystery catalog for Christmas of 2001. Since I hate to waste anything, I also used it for my family Christmas card in 2003, and I’m using it again here.

‘Twas the night before Christmas,
and all through the hall,
our gifts had gone missing,
bows, boxes, and all.

The presents were gone
from under the tree,
and not even the butler
knew where they could be.

The children were sleeping
all snug in their bed,
not knowing their toys
had mysteriously fled.

And I in my robe,
and Mary in her gown,
were trying to calm
the poor servants down.

When a knock on the door
gave the maids quite a jolt.
Had the burglar returned
despite our stout bolt?

Away to the window
I flew like a flash,
tore open the shutters
and threw up the sash.

The fog rising up
from the new-fallen snow
eerily veiled
the objects below.

When what to my wondering
eyes should appear,
but a hansom cab,
pulled by reindeer.

A man in deerstalker,
and Inverness cape
was there at our door.
My mouth fell agape.

When he saw me, he hefted
a large burlap sack.
“Let me in,” called he,
“I’ve found what you lack.

“The paths that I followed,
the ciphers decoded…
But I got to the gang
ere the swag was unloaded.”

Before I could speak to
the familiar figure,
he said, “Never mind,”
and picked the lock, with a snigger.

The butler and I
rushed down the stair,
and found him a-sprawled
on the Chippendale chair.

“I’ve done you a service,”
he said casually.
“I brought back your presents.
Look?under the tree.”

Indeed they were back,
the toys and the rest.
“I can scarcely believe it,”
I said to my guest.

“How did you retrieve them?
The games and the dolls?
You’ve found my wife’s necklace!
And my son’s brand-new balls!”

His eyes, how they twinkled
as my praise gave him glee.
But he said, “Commonplace.
It was elementary.

“Ridiculously easy,
to find what they took,
for I am a genius,
and I know where to look.”

I asked, “But who did it?
Who burgled our Noel?
I?ll have him arrested,
and thrown into gaol.”

“The clues are all there,”
he said with a sneer.
“As plain as the snout
on a Christmas reindeer.

“See that rip in the stocking?
See that torn Christmas card?
How the yule log’s been shifted?
It’s really not hard.”

“I see what you point to,”
I said, trying to think,
“but what does it mean?
I can’t make the link.”

He smiled a smug smile,
said with glorious verve,
“I’m afraid that you see,
but you do not observe!”

He took out a pipe
and deliberately lit it.
“Don’t you realize?
‘Twas the butler who did it!”

“Holmes,” said I,
“You’ve done it again.
I’ll write out this tale
when I get to my pen.”

“The Yuletide has lulled you,”
my old friend Holmes said.
“When the game is afoot,
you must use your head!”

Then he sprang to his hansom,
gave the reindeer a yell,
and away the cab went
like a bat out of hell.

But I heard him exclaim,
as he drove out of sight,
“Merry Christmas, dear Watson,
and to yours, a good night!”

Copyright © 2001 Toni L.P. Kelner