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The night before a Christmas that nearly wasn’t

'Twas the night before Christmas, and down at the pub,

Daddy was getting us holiday grub.

"Make up your minds," his expression was dour,

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"It's only half price while it's still happy hour."

I ordered nachos, and Megan some fries,

Daddy had beer, and one or two ryes.

He told us the government changed all the rules,

So now even kids could sit on bar stools.

"I'm glad we can all be together like this,"

But somehow I guessed there was something amiss.

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My sister, oblivious, dug into her fries,

"Why's it called happy hour? Everyone cries."

Dad changed the subject: "What wish did you make?"

I told him an Xbox and Megan said skates.

"Well that old Saint Nick had better get cracking,

The day after next I'm back up north, fracking."

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But Santa it seemed could not be found,

Even NORAD had searched the air, sea and ground.

No, Santa had stopped in at the casino,

His gaze was now fixed on a dealer named Gino.

"Hit me again," the sweat dripped from his face

Gino drew 10, his upcard an ace.

Santa threw down his hand, mopped the glow from his brow,

And guessed that the reindeer had left him by now.

But his coursers stood fast, all in their spots,

They hadn't budged since they sat at the slots.

How did I know this? I read it online.

Along with a video posted on Vine,

Santa pawning presents to pay for his habit,

"50 bucks for that X-Box?" "Go ahead, grab it."

Santa was busted and selling off toys,

There would be nothing left for the good girls and boys.

"We've got to save Christmas," I said to my sis.

"But what about Dad?" "Never mind him, he's pissed."

We can't do it alone, get our neighbour, next door.

And that's when we met our MP, James Moore.

He opened the door, and looked down at us,

"Well good evening children, what's all the fuss?"

He was larger than life in his blue business suit,

His hair was slicked back and as smooth as a newt.

His cufflinks they shone, his shoes were so shiny,

I whispered to sis, "Try not to sound whiny."

"Our daddy is drunk and Santa is gambling!"

"What's this little friends? Slow down now, you're rambling.

I've no food for you, if that's what you're after,

If that's what you're asking, you couldn't be dafter."

We tried to explain but he just wouldn't get it,

He said, "We prefer to give you a tax credit."

"But you're our MP, here to help if we need it,"

"Feeding you's not my problem, so why don't you beat it?"

He slammed shut the door, we jumped back with a fright,

This was the worst ever Christmas Eve night.

We knew life was hard in Terminal City,

But we didn't expect it devoid of all pity.

Where was the spirit of the holiday season?

Before asking for help was treated as treason?

It was then that we heard tiny bells in the distance,

We followed the sound at my sister's insistence.

And there on the corner stood Rudolph and friends,

Gathered around a new Mercedes-Benz.

His night at the slots had paid off big time,

He was spreading the cheer on the government's dime.

But the fun was short-lived, there was work to be done,

The rest of the night was spent racing the sun.

With Santa and dad passed out in the sleigh,

We delivered the presents in less than a day.

The children awoke, unaware what had happened,

The Christmas that nearly was totally crappened,

By gambling and greed, indifference and boozers,

In a city divided between winners and losers.

Stephen Quinn is the host of On the Coast on CBC Radio One, 88.1 FM and 690 AM in Vancouver. @cbcstephenquinn

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