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Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse

Those classic lines might be coming true in a way that the author never originally intended notes Billy MacInnes

’Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro’ the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

Those words, from a poem entitled A Visit from St. Nicholas, were first published anonymously on 23 December 1823. They have been quoted over the years by the great, the good and everyone else in between. The poem is notable for introducing many of the features that we associate with Santa Claus today (including the reindeer). In the poem, he talks of “a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer” who St Nick calls by name:

"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!.”

And as for Santa, Clement Clarke Moore, who finally claimed authorship of the poem in 1844, pretty much set the template:

“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 was as white as the snow.”

But the world changes and while much of the description is still accurate (according to eye witnesses who claim to have seen said Santa Claus), those opening lines have taken on a slightly different meaning since the advent of the PC and, more specifically, the internet. It’s possible our little rodent friends may well stop stirring for a time even if, bering nocturnal, it’s not very likely that they would do so at night (and Christmas eve is no exception), there is a different creature that is very likely to be stirring into the early hours.

Even if the furry mice are sleeping, many plastic ones are likely to still be clicking and moving in houses across the globe on Christmas eve, if only for people checking the latest posts on their favourite social media platform or writing a last minute post wishing a Merry Christmas to a relative half way across the world.

Mind you, in most houses, the mouse (plastic, not furry) is becoming less active over time, not in preparation for Santa’s imminent arrival but more because people are increasingly using trackpads on their laptops or fingers on their tablet and smartphone screens to access the web and social media platforms.

So yes, the world changes, even for mice. And it may well be that Moore’s first lines turn out to be true in the future when we have houses where not even a (plastic) mouse is stirring. Instead, all you might hear is the sound of fingers tapping and dragging all through the house.

Oh, and a furry mouse or two.

This was last published in December 2016

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