Twas the day before Christmas and all through the house ...
CINCINNATI - Seven Decembers ago, Jarod Kriger was riding in a hot Army Humvee in the desert, in the middle of a war zone. So he didn’t care how cold it was as he walked through the Queen City freeze to deliver holiday mail and gifts on Christmas Eve.
When out in the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
"It's nice,” the mail carrier said as he walked his route in Clifton Tuesday. “I like the winter weather and the hot showers. It’s just so much better now ... It means a little bit more, you know?”
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
Monday was the heaviest load for the postal service. Some of the crews weren't finished with their routes until nearly 7 p.m. But after what Kriger had been through – being wounded, seeing fellow soldiers killed during three tours of duty – the extra weight of his bag didn’t matter, either.
"Mail’s not too bad today,” Kriger said as he walked. “I'm trying to get the mail out as fast as I can and as good as I can so that everybody else can enjoy their holiday as well."
As I drew in my head and was turning around,
down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
On this special day, Kriger set out to deliver joy and holiday greetings – not just the mail - to residents on his route.
All bundled in fur, from his head to his foot,
His clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
"How are you? Merry Christmas," Kriger said as he passed a woman on the sidewalk.
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
"All right, I got a package for you," Kriger said as he reached into his bag.
The man watched like an excited child on Christmas morning.
His eyes--how they twinkled! His dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
"He is like a Santa,” the man said of Kriger, "if Santa was young and handsome and good looking."
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
that shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.
"I did not pay him to say that," Kriger laughed.
Although he was enjoying his work, the married father of two couldn’t wait to get home to his family on Christmas Eve.
"I got a little more pep in my step," Kriger said.
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim 'ere he drove out of sight,
"Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!"
- with apologies to Clement Clarke Moore