30 December 2009
(with apologies to Clement Clarke Moore or possibly Henry Livingston Jr.)
Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the stars
Not a creature was stirring, not even on Mars.
The rovers were driven by drivers with care,
In hopes new discoveries would soon be found there.
Earth children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of dust devils danced in their heads.
With Oppy at Marquette, and Spirit in a sandtrap,
We just had to settle our brains for a long winter’s nap.
When out on the dunes there arose such a clatter,
And Odyssey watched to see what was the matter.
All the way to Earth, flew a new data flash,
JPL opened the files and threw out the trash.
The fines on the rovers from new-fallen dust
Gave the objects below the colour of rust.
When, what to my computer screen should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than rockets his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!
“Now Viking! now, Phoenix! now, Pathfiner and Sojourner!
On, Rockets! On, Airbags! on, ‘Chutes and Retroburners!
From the red of the sky! To the rocks in the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”
As dry soil that before the dust devils fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
And up to the ops-room the engineers flew,
With the drivers full of tricks, and new software too.
And then, in a twinkling, they heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
They drew in their heads, and turned right around,
Down the corridor St Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with red dust on his boot.
A bundle of rocks he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.
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 were as white as Mars’ 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 they laughed when they saw him, in spite of themselves!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave them to know they had nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But they heard him exclaim, as he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas on Mars, and to Earth a good-night!”
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