The To-Do List Before Christmas

Lou in Santa outfitTwas the night before Christmas, when all through Corp. House
Not a keyboard was stirring, not even a mouse.
The screens were on standby, the hard drives as still
As the stars in the sky and the snow on the sill.

The workers were gathered all snug in the bars
With visions of turkey and good R&R
So the office was empty, except for the sight
Of a solitary figure by monitor light …

With his nose to the grindstone, his foot to the floor,
His backups, his buckets, his charts on the door,
His 43 folders, his weekly review –
Who was working so late? Why none other than Lou!

He was missing the mistletoe, champagne and smiles,
He was ticking off items and tickling his files,
He was skipping the party and shunning the fun,
He was cranking out widgets and getting things done!

Till a voice from outside called: “Ho ho there my lad!
Good tidings! Good tidings! Rejoice and be glad!
For tonight’s the most magical night of the year,
So put down your checklist and join the good cheer!”

Lou snorted and answered without turning round:
“You slackers get on with your night on the town,
With your skiving and drinking and your antics grotesque.
While there’s work to be done I shall not leave this desk!”

Then out in the car park arose such a clatter,
Lou sprang from his desk to see what was the matter.
To the top of the bookshelf he flew like a flash,
Tore open the window and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow
Gave the lustre of midday to objects below.
When, what to Lou’s wondering eyes should appear,
But a digital sleigh and eight virtual reindeer.

With an avatar driver, so lively and quick,
Lou knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than e-mails his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and tweeted, and called them by name!

“Now Dasher! Now, Tumblr! Now, Flickr and Vixen!
On, Comet! On Reddit! On Revver and Blitzen!
To the ends of the car park! To the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the rooftop the reindeer they flew,
With the sleigh full of data, and St Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, was heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As Lou drew in his head and came down from the shelf,
Through the wi-fi St Nicholas downloaded himself.

He was dressed all in pixels, from his head to his feet,
And his beard was a-flicker like snowflakes or sleet.
His eyes – how they twinkled! His sides how they shook!
As he chuckled at Lou, and gave him a kind look.

“Next actions and projects are all very well,
But the year’s work is finished – do you not hear the bells?
Why not put down your notebook, leave a few things undone,
Meet up with your colleagues and join in the fun?”

“How can I? How can I?” said Lou in despair,
As he wrung his long fingers and pulled at his hair,
“This to-do list’s as long as an elephant’s trunk.
If I don’t get it finished by midnight, I’m sunk!”

When St Nicholas heard this he roared and guffawed,
Slapped his thighs and his stomach, and rolled on the floor.
“Now sunshine you may think you’ve a lot on your plate
But check out my schedule and look at the date:

“By sunrise I must leave a gift or a toy
For every man, woman, each girl and each boy
In each village, each city, each country on earth,
And all the while spreading good tidings and mirth!

“So you have to admit, when comparing our chores,
My to-do list is longer and harder than yours.
If you don’t mind my saying, your ‘elephant’s trunk’
Is looking a little deflated and shrunk!”

“But how will you do it?” said Lou in amaze,
“I couldn’t get through it in thousands of days.”
“Me neither,” said Santa, “if I went it alone,
But the answer’s not working your hands to the bone,

“Innovation, innovation, is what brings success,
And web tools will increase your e-ffectiveness,
Judicious joint ventures will lighten the load,
If you get the right compound, your results will explode!

“When I started this business I did all jobs myself,
Till I needed assistance and took on an elf.
Then we quickly expanded, adding factories, machines
Faster sleighs, chartered liners and two submarines.

“We’ve always been global but now we’re much bigger
The challenge is scaling without losing vigour.
I’ve got nothing against modernising as such,
As long as we don’t lose the personal touch.

“So Twitter is crucial for keeping it real,
And giving that old-fashioned intimate feel.
To-do lists, address lists and things of that ilk
Are dealt with by Evernote and Remember the Milk.

“The actual production has all been outsourced
To invisible helpers who work while I snore,
Then wrapping, addressing and final delivery
Are handled by sleigh teams in Amazon livery

“Who navigate safely the whole planet’s girth
By plotting trajectories with Google Earth;
The challenge of tracking we easily surmount
By giving each reindeer a Dopplr account.

“When the night’s work is over they head back to base
And vanish like snow without leaving a trace.”
As his words petered out, sunlight peeped through the blinds,
Causing Lou to cry out and leap off his behind.

“Relax!” laughed the old man, “Merry Christmas to you!
The one day of the year when you’ve nothing to do!
Put your feet up! Do nothing! It may sound a big ask,
But before my work’s done I have one final task:

“Now Dasher! Now, Tumblr! Now, Flickr and Vixen!
On, Comet! On Reddit! On Revver and Blitzen!
To the front page of Digg! This is your final haul!
Now Digg away! Digg away! Digg away all!

Then the miracle happened: on thousands of screens,
As the families were gathering under their trees,
As the lovers were poised by the mistletoe sprig,
“Goodwill to All Men” hit the front page of Digg!

Marla in Santa outfitSt Nick sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But Lou heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

As they pulled out of view the elves took off their masks,
The reindeer unbuttoned and pulled out hip-flasks,
St Nicholas shrugged off his cape and his beard –
And the mischievous features of Marla appeared!

“Well done team!” she chuckled and popped the champagne,
“We’ve managed to break last year’s records again!
We’ve earned a good break now we’ve done our good deeds:
Engage hyperdrive! Prepare for light speed!”

About the Author: Mark McGuinness is a Coach for Artists, Creatives and Entrepreneurs. For a free 25-week guide to success as a creative professional, sign up for Mark’s course The Creative Pathfinder.

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  1. Weekly Links #33 | | December 29, 2008


  1. prince campbell says:


  2. Having read Lateral Action for quite a while I have never before posted a comment, I guess that is just something I don’t feel naturally prone to do – but after such a prolific seasonal greeting I feel compelled to step out of my lurking habits and wish you all a very Merry Christmas indeed!

    Thanks for the help, advice and lyrics – may we all have a
    prosperous 2009!

  3. Ha ha! This is insane and fabulous, thank you. Duly Dugg & Stumbled.

    The reindeer names are really the best.

  4. This is great. And ironic. It recalls Jon Morrow’s post last year on working right through the holidays. Kind of true in some cases and kinda bah humbugish sad in other ways.

    I appreciate your poetic self joining your business self for this apt expression of holiday work/cheer.

    Merry day to you, Mark!

  5. Thanks everyone, you can probably tell I had fun writing it, glad you enjoyed reading it. πŸ™‚

  6. Thanx for the seasons greetings Lateral Action, the poem added a seasonal spice to such a time as this, the timing was perfect. Lol

    Merry xmas and a happy 2009 everyone!

  7. Matt Cheney says:

    Wow, that was amazing! Dugg and Tweeted. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Talk about brilliant – had no idea such a poet was lurking within you Marla, uhm, I mean, Mark. πŸ™‚

    Appropriate as well; on Saturday a friend of mine took me out for a long stroll around the city and to do some serious cafe culture time. I kept feeling guilty for not being at home doing work, so thanks for the reminder that we dont need to do it all ourselves!

  9. Well done, sir. Well done, indeed!

    twitter: shanearthur