'Twas the holiday competition

More than four hundred of you have made our Christmas last beyond the season, as Christmas is supposed to do. Your entries in The Home Forum Competition ran the gamut from pure nonsense to high-tech wit to nuclear concern and reverent confidence in the essence of Christmas. We felt that we should represent this range among the awards, even though the results are not always ''jolly'' - which one or two of you said made your entry a ''false start.''

Subcategories could be made of mice, mishaps, bills to pay, Cabbage Patch dolls, hard-to-assemble toys, interrupted snoozes. In each grouping we've looked for an entry with some particular originality, word play, or point.

For the information of readers who did not join in this time, the holiday competition asked for ''false starts'' by Clement Moore when he was writing his famous seasonal poem. They were to include his opening words '' 'Twas the night before Christmas, when . . .'' but not the myth of Santa Claus. No more than one entry of up to 10 lines per reader.

Some promising entries had to be set aside for not quite following the specifications. It was delightful to receive examples that happened to have been written for Christmas cards or other purposes, but we had to omit these - as we did the one that an entrant also sent to a local paper, kindly informing us when it was published there.

Rhymed references to enjoying the Monitor gave us many smiles. And we must add a word for other entries that did not receive certificates but that touched our hearts. One was from Vera Werblo, who succeeded in using a Daily Bible Verse as a rhyming last line. Another was from Susan Carow Zarr, paying tribute to a woman who cares for the elderly on Christmas Eve. Three were the joint effort of nurses at the Chestnut Hill Benevolent Association in Chestnut Hill, Mass., who showed how joy and humor can be combined with caring.

Other entries gave evidence of the family fun we had hoped for with this competition. Teen-age and younger readers responded from several states. A group from their grandparents' generation got together at Sun City, Ariz., and prepared several entries as well as information on the ''luminaries'' (little fires) displayed there in contrast with the electric lights farther north.

Certificates to: 'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through our condo Not a carol was heard, not even a rondo. The golf socks weren't hung by the chimney with care, Mainly because we had no fireplace there. Out on the patio arose such a clatter, Stringing lights on the cactus, Gramp fell off his ladder. Back East the grandchildren snoozed snug in their beds, While visions of icicles pranced through our heads. Yet the wonder of love warmed this grandmother's heart, Even though our family lived two time zones apart. Gloria MarshallScottsdale, Ariz. 'was the night before Christmas when I started this verse, Every time I rewrite it, it keeps getting worse. You'd think anyone could find words to make rhymes, But they seem to elude me at critical moments. Or if I find rhyme words to make it all neater, I can't seem to get them to arrange themselves properly to follow the meter. This poetry stuff is beyond my endurance - I think I'll give up and go back to insurance. Chris Hocker Quaker Hill, Conn. 'Twas the night before Christmas, when up in a plane Our loved ones are circling the airport again! Ellen W. Bunting Elsah, Ill. 'Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house The computer was humming, and plugged in was the mouse. Dad sat in his chair punching in keys, And out came three holographs of Christmas trees. He pressed the two keys labeled as shifts, And out of the computer came numerous gifts. The computer said, ''These are for you for taking good care; ''For cleaning my disks and keeping my screen free of glare.'' And Dad typed a message now in my sight: A Merry Christmas to all and to all a good byte. Jason Joy (11) Framingham, Mass. 'Twas the night before Christmas when I cuddled my son, Followed his eyes, brightly mobile, at three months lacking one. Mere moments before he had crawled to the tree With a kick like a miler at university. For there were globes to orbit, and his walk in space Tossed stars in his eyes and lit up his face. His probe launched a question, one posed eternally, ''What, my little Evan, what will you be?'' Then came the present he'd dropped 'neath the tree; He put his arms around my neck and whispered his first ''Da-dee.'' Dave Van Dongen Dearborn, Mich. 'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. The MOUSE was not stirring - so bursting was he With cheese he had stolen from under the tree. The CAT was not stirring; he waited about, In hopes that the MOUSE might - unwisely - step out. And the KIDDIES upstairs were not stirring at all, 'Til they could hear snores from the room 'cross the hall. You would think, on a night when so much was occurring. That SOMEBODY in the house should have been stirring! George McCulloch Syracuse, N.Y. 'Twas the night before Christmas when up on the Moon, Moon-Beings were singing a holiday tune. Their voices rising in song full of mirth Floated on air waves right down to Earth. To Earthlings at home and on ships at sea The choristers caroled a song full of glee: ''Dashing through dunes in a horseless shay, ''Over Copernicus, all of the way. ''Jingle bells, jingle bells, over the barrier, ''Oh what fun it is to ride through the maria.ok'' Mardiros Minasian Norwell, Mass. 'Twas the night before Christmas when, somewhat up-tight with last-minute shopper's ''picked-over'' plight (one special gift I was seeking, had looked everywhere), a shopper confided, ''Saw one - four blocks over there.'' I raced like a greyhound - only one block more! Then, finally, breathless, I stood in front of the store, when what to my wondering eyes should appear, a sign in the window: ''Closed. Happy New Year!'' Dorothy C. Cureton Bonita Springs, Fla. 'Twas the night before Christmas, when Father began. 'Twas January first when the toy finally ran. Directions he read, assured they were Greek. Ingenuity won out. Whew! What a week! Marcia T. Jenks Auburn, N.Y. 'Twas the night before Christmas when giggles through the house Meant our children were painting pictures for my sleeping spouse. ''What's that?'' I said, for what was emerging Showed what she said was Round John Virgin. Crayon lines cluttered an aeroplane's flight Where in the cockpit sat a man dressed in white. ''Why do you say you don't like him a lot?'' '' 'Cause, Mama, he's bad - he's Pontius the Pilot.'' Maedell Lambeth Rice Columbia, Mo. 'Twas the night before Christmas when high in the sky As foretold by the prophets a star journeyed by; Wondrous light shone on shepherds, gave guidance to kings, And to all of Earth's peoples a promise of things Yet unseen by man's nature - poor man who was caught In the sins and the suf'ring he took as his lot! Heav'nly star showed the cradle of Jesus, the Lord, Who would prove in his meekness the might of God's word. Greet the babe! Hail our Saviour! Blest Bethlehem night! There shone joy, wonder, peace, love as mankind's birthright! Joicie R. Appell Leawood, Kan. 'Twas the night before Christmas, when bombs burst in air, All the people stopped scurrying, the land was burnt bare. There were no more swans swimming, and no calling birds, No partridges, no pear trees - not even these words. 'Round yon world of clouded minds, blinded by the light Of mindless clouds that mushroomed, into silent night. In the season we gather to celebrate a birth How ironic that, instead, we put an end to Earth. Won't wise men heed this poet's cry, midst yuletide song and laughter, 'Fore Christmas Eve's the day before, and Christmas, ''The Day After.'' Maryl Skinner Northfield, Minn. 'Twas the night before Christmas, when all 'round the earth People took a new look at what freedom is worth. They tightened the reins of office in hand In all the free nations, both small and grand; And there arose new conviction to love one another Would create jurisdiction not like any other Controls or contrivances of which man is deviser. So to keep themselves healthier, wealthier, and wiser They worked out together the plan and some laws That mankind-with-love could accept despite flaws. Janet W. Stebbins Owl's Head, Maine 'Twas the night before Christmas when Washington knew That the time for some action at Trenton was due; 'Twas the following night he launched the surprise That captured the Hessians and needed supplies; His crossing the river is worthy of note, Recalling the leader stood up in the boat. Jean Stearns Ventura, Calif. 'Twas the night before Christmas, when out of the welter Came a jolly accountant with a lovely tax shelter. He offered to save me a bundle of dough; Now you'll see both our pictures in your local P.O. Richard F. Barrett San Jose, Calif. 'Twas the night before Christmas when I started to wonder What sort of day will our friends have ''Down Under.'' Though it's wintertime here, it's summertime there, And flowers are blooming in the gardens so fair. I can't understand there would be any reason They couldn't keep Christmas, whatever the season. Is Christmas just Santa and snow and all that? And stuffing ourselves so we're sure to get fat? NO! Think of the Christ-child, the shepherds and star, And have a great Christmas wherever you are. Vivian M. Bollinger Foresthill, Calif. 'Twas the night before Christmas when snow started falling, The temperature dropped, and the cars were all stalling. Ma was tired from mixing her batter by hand, For the power was out from the storm in our land. She stopped when no one would help in the house. Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. Mirth White New York, N.Y.

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