Pat Kennedy - Your Washington, DC Real Estate Connection


The Irrevernt Christmas Poem

When my siblings and I were young children, my parents worked hard to give us an appreciation for literature and poetry beyond what the nuns taught us at Assumption of the Blessed Mary Elementary School.  To that end, my father introduced us to his favorite poet, Ogden Nash. 

The Golden Trashery of Ogden Nashery became dog eared from constant use.  And one of our favorite poems was “The Boy Who Laughed At Santa Claus’ – my younger brother and I committed it to memory!

When it came time for the class play, my brother decided that he wanted to recite this poem, which he knew by heart.  Then, on the day of the dress rehearsal, my mother got a phone call from a horrified nun, Jack’s third grade teacher.  She was told to come pick up her son, and that he was no longer going to participate in the production.

So, what was all the hoopla over?  Why, a naughty young boy named Jabez Dawes, and the poem goes like this:

The Boy Who Laughed at Santa Claus
by Ogden Nash
In Baltimore there lived a boy.
He wasn't anybody's joy.
Although his name was Jabez Dawes,
His character was full of flaws.

In school he never led his classes,

He hid old ladies' reading glasses,

His mouth was open when he chewed,

And elbows to the table glued.

He stole the milk of hungry kittens,

And walked through doors marked NO ADMITTANCE
He said he acted thus because

There wasn't any Santa Claus.

Another trick that tickled Jabez

Was crying 'Boo' at little babies.

He brushed his teeth, they said in town,

Sideways instead of up and down.

Yet people pardoned every sin,

And viewed his antics with a grin,

Till they were told by Jabez Dawes,

’There isn't any Santa Claus!'                                        

Deploring how he did behave,

His parents swiftly sought their grave.

They hurried through the portals pearly,

And Jabez left the funeral early.

Like whooping cough, from child to child,

He sped to spread the rumor wild:
'Sure as my name is Jabez Dawes

There isn't any Santa Claus!'

Slunk like a weasel of a marten

Through nursery and kindergarten,

Whispering low to every tot,
'There isn't any, no there's not!'

The children wept all Christmas eve               
And Jabez chortled up his sleeve.
No infant dared hang up his stocking
For fear of Jabez' ribald mocking.

He sprawled on his untidy bed,

Fresh malice dancing in his head,

When presently with scalp-a-tingling,
Jabez heard a distant jingling;

He heard the crunch of sleigh and hoof

Crisply alighting on the roof.

What good to rise and bar the door?

A shower of soot was on the floor.

What was beheld by Jabez Dawes?

The fireplace full of Santa Claus!

Then Jabez fell upon his knees

With cries of 'Don't,' and 'Pretty Please.'

He howled, 'I don't know where you read it,

But anyhow, I never said it!'
'Jabez' replied the angry saint,

'It isn't I, it's you that ain't.

Although there is a Santa Claus,
There isn't any Jabez Dawes!'

Said Jabez then with impudent vim,

'Oh, yes there is, and I am him!

Your magic don't scare me, it doesn't'

And suddenly he found he wasn't!

From grimy feet to grimy locks,
Jabez became a Jack-in-the-box,

An ugly toy with springs unsprung,
Forever sticking out his tongue.

The neighbors heard his mournful squeal;

They searched for him, but not with zeal.

No trace was found of Jabez Dawes,

Which led to thunderous applause,

And people drank a loving cup

And went and hung their stockings up.

All you who sneer at Santa Claus,
Beware the fate of Jabez Dawes,
The saucy boy who mocked the saint.
Donner and Blitzen licked off his paint.

OK, maybe Sister Mary Whats Her Name had a point.  It’s not exactly uplifting, and you might not want to share it with your small children, as my father did.  And on Christmas Eve, for many years, this poem made the Kennedy children laugh themselves silly.

This will be our first Christmas without my father.  He died earlier this year at the age of 89.  In his honor, my siblings and I are going to recite Jabez Dawes when we gather at my house on Christmas day for a family celebration.  And we will certainly celebrate my father, who gave us all a truly unique education.  I think we can still all recite at least huge chunks of this one by heart!


Comment balloon 11 commentsPatricia Kennedy • December 23 2007 07:15PM


Pat, thanks for the awesome poem. It was a great laugh.
Posted by Danny Thornton, WordPress Guru (R & D Art) over 12 years ago

Thanks Pat,

I have nothing but fond memories of the good sisters that taught me in grade school over 50 years ago (St Camillus, Silver Spring Md)  but I think your father did well exposing you to the kind of literature that the nuns dont teach. Thanks to you and your father, I think I have a new Christmas tradition in my house.... Ill be reciting Jabez Dawes for my grand daughter

Posted by Ron Parise ( over 12 years ago

My son sometimes refers to me as "Our Lady of Perpetual Guilt".  (We aren't Catholic, but we have a sense of humor that drives Baptists' completely NUTS!)  He gave up the Santa Secret with some younger cousins at Thanksgiving this year so I'll be sharing this with him tomorrow--thanks!

*** M E R R Y  C H R I S T M A S ! ***

Posted by Amanda Evans, Real Estate Broker - Fort Worth Texas (DFW Living) over 12 years ago
My sympathies to you and your family for the loss of your father. This will be the 9th Christmas without mine. The first was the hardest but the wonderful memories help to get you through. Sounds like you've been blessed with an abundance of memories. Merry Christmas!
Posted by Jim Albano, Team - Jean-Marie Vantuno / Realtors North Jersey Real Estate (Prudential Damiano Realty ) over 12 years ago
Patricia - I'm sad and glad - sad about the loss of your father, but glad he'll be there in spirit to join you with the wonderful legacy he left to you and your family about reading and poems and fun.
Posted by Sharon Simms, St. Petersburg FL - CRS CIPS CLHMS RSPS (Coastal Properties Group International - Christie's International) over 12 years ago
Patricia, you keep reading that poem, in honor of you father. This will be the hardest year but the traditions he left you all are for eternity. I'll be thinking of you.
Posted by Missy Caulk, Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate (Missy Caulk TEAM) over 12 years ago

Danny, glad you enjoyed Ogden!

Ron, I think my nieces and nephews heard it from their grandfather - if not their parents!

Amanda, now don't frighten the child!  

And, Jim, yes, we do have some amazing memories of my Dad.  At some point, I'll even be able to blog about him!


Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (Redfin) over 12 years ago
Sharon and Missy, it doesn't feel like we lost him.  He had a long and amazing life, and when he went, he got a big old obituary in the Washington Post and a big send off.  And while it was totally his time to go, it didn't make it a lot easier. 
Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (Redfin) over 12 years ago
Thanks for sharing the poem, Pat.  I know your father will fill your heart with joy this Christmas even if he can't be with you physically!  Merry Christmas and a prosperous 2008!
Posted by Gregory Maley, REALTOR, GRI, CBR, SHS, e-PRO, ABR (Sold Buy the Sea Realty & R.E.N.T.) over 12 years ago
Patricia, you'd better have the tissues ready, because I bet you all are laughing so hard by the time you finish your poem, you will be crying!  A toast to your father and his wonderful sense of humor!  Merry Christmas!
Posted by Elaine Hanson, REALTOR - Topanga, CA Real Estate Agent (Compass) over 12 years ago
Patricia-  A great way to honor your father and all the greatness he brought into you life. Merry Christmas. Katerina
Posted by Katerina Gasset, Get It Done For Me Virtual Services (Get It Done For Me Virtual Services ) over 12 years ago