The Night Before Techmas

A classic poem retooled for the digital age

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and Santa was pissed
‘Bout deadlines his software consultants had missed.
“Our Big Data insights,” they’d said, “will delight!”
“As soon as we finish this healthcare website.”

They’d guaranteed August, and needless to say
Their planned global roll out had hit a delay.
But this was not all, it was only the start
Of tech woes that burdened poor Kris Kringle’s heart.

Time was, round the world, that each lassie and tyke
Would write Santa letters and say what they’d like.
But now kids take pictures, and quick as a bat
They text him an image — or worse, they Snapchat.

Santa had coped with it best that he could,
And kept secret lists of who’s bad and who’s good.
But then he found out, to his shock and dismay,
The Pole had been hacked by that ol’ NSA.

Moreover (no details!) it turned out the elves
Would stand round the workshop and photo themselves.
It made Santa angry: He said by next winter
They’d all be replaced with a cheap 3D printer.

Santa was bummed by the life electronic
He’d no love at all for these changes tectonic.
You’d think all this worry meant Santa’s disputing
Our world of disruption, phone apps, cloud computing.

Yet Santa was joyous to hear of one plan:
A way to speed up how delivery ran.
An elf from Seattle had claimed a new power
Could cut toy dispersal to just half an hour.

But look how the reindeer stand stiller than stones!
Transfixed by that confident whirring of drones.
They hear their boss say “just one Christmas we’ll give it,
“If your drones are faster, from reindeer we’ll pivot.”

When word reached the barn poor old Blitzen lost hope,
And Comet and Donner did nothing but mope,
While Vixen and Dasher, who needed the work,
Looked into strange jobs on Mechanical Turk.

From the depths of dark gloom then a light burst ethereal
‘Twas ruby-nosed Rudolph, the entrepreneurial.
“I’ve funded on Kickstarter, this Christmas Eve,
“A race: His machines versus our make-believe!”

The contest began at the Santa airstrip
The place where all toys start their long Christmas trip.
Tops for Tahiti, some dolls for Japan,
And Google Glass, headed for Azerbaijan.

Into the field the reindeer advanced
All nine, a brave number with barely a chance.
The workshop was blackened beneath a great shadow
Of thousands of drones, prepped for holiday battle.

Rudolph gulped hard, and then upward he flew
With all of the heaviest things that he knew—
A washer, a dryer, a platinum beehive—
While a drone strained with one disc of GTA 5.

Prancer, encouraged, flew light as a zephyr—
His load a pool table, a fine Christmas heifer;
A lashed-up septuplet of holiday drones
Was grounded by boxes of plain ice cream cones.

In concert, the reindeer soared yet higher still
While toting a Tesla S, bound for Brazil!
The copters collapsed like a rained out flash mob
Defeated by Apple’s new thingamabob.

“That does it,” said Santa, “we’ll be late adopters.
“For now we’ll make toys from these cute little copters.
“They can’t lift a trike, or a wagon or sled,
“Or even two seasons of ‘The Walking Dead.’”

He harnessed the reindeer and loaded gifts high,
His GPS magically programmed to fly.
Said Rudolph, while leading the enchanted sled’s lift,
“Merry Christmas! It’s more than just giving a GIF!”

Illustrations by J.J. McCullough

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