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Little Steve's Christmas Eve

‘Twas very early Christmas Eve and Little Steve was in his shop
Sitting next to his barrel stove with a coffee cup on top:
He hadn’t very much to do, nothing that could not wait,
Still ‘twas very early Christmas Eve, an’ Little Steve wished it late.

The wood fire crackled, all aflame, the flue red as rose,
Heating up his buffalo plaid but leaving cold his toes
Just like every other Christmas Eve he’d spent there all alone
With no one else in the shop and not a soul at home.

You see, Little Steve was a carpenter, a craftsman worked in wood,
Who, by every estimation, was so much better than good:
He made the tables and the chairs, cupboards for the dishes,
And from the scraps, candlesticks, to light those nighttime wishes.

On each wall around his shop, the candlesticks there stood,
Perhaps a thousand, maybe more, in every kind of wood
Like needles on a Christmas tree but each upon its shelf,
All the work of Santa’s helper—Little Steve, the elf.

Except Little Steve wasn’t small and an elf he was neither,
And, as for Christmas, if you asked, he didn’t like it either.
He didn’t have a spouse, nor kids, nor dog, nor cat,
So, every year on Christmas Eve, in his shop he sat

Hunkered down by the stove, ignoring what he could,
Doing the very least of all and nothing that he should;
Except, on this night, a little knock, harkened to his door
And when he said, “Please come in,” in came Benji Zorr.

Now, Benji was a half-pint kid, but his reputation did precede
As being rather hard of heart with mischief as his creed;
Yet, he was just the kind of guy Little Steve thought he saw through
Because unknown to anyone else, he’d been just like that too

When one old sock, with holey toe, laying empty on the floor,
Was what he got every Christmas, that and nothing more;
Not even a single lump of coal, nor word of Christmas cheer,
Just empty socks with big ol’ holes, year after year after year

Because Little Steve had been a miscreant, exactly like Benji Zorr,
And his every sin was revisited when he opened up that door:
“Merry Christmas! Come on in. What brings you out tonight?”
Said Little Steve, feigning the season, trying to get it right.

Lithe of step with purposed hand, Benji promptly closed the door
And pointed to the candlesticks with eyes cast to the floor:
“Could you give me just one or two to add some Christmas cheer
For nothing else do I have this giving time of year.”

And Little Steve, that Christmas Eve, knew exactly what to do
Quickly getting down for Benji, twenty-eight plus two:
In fact, an armload, overflowing, in all assorted sizes
Before ushering out the little tyke with his crafted prizes.

Back in his chair, by the stove, Little Steve felt warm of heart
Pleased to have given of himself and doing one small part;
And he began to see how socks could be darned now at last
By tossing away the days of nay from fifty Christmas’ past

When came a crashing upon his roof, he first mistook for deer
Hitched at length to a big red sleigh due this time of year:
But in his heart, he knew better: ‘twas candlesticks he’d made himself,
Raining down upon the roof of Little Steve, the elf!

To his feet he jumped with rage, what a fool he had been,
But before the door he stopped once more and began to think again
Of all the years, past and present, and what was Christmas for
Except to help all mankind—even Benji Zorr.

Thus Little Steve, that Christmas Eve, changed forevermore
And to this day, still gives away, candlesticks galore:
Turned by lathe, turned by hand, turned by Benji Zorr himself
Under the Merry-Christmas! eye of Little Steve, the elf!

James N. Zitzelsberger

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