OPINION: Stuart Elliott in America

'Twas the night before Christmas, and Mad Ave was still,

Not a creature was stirring, 'cause none had the will.

After a year of horrible terror attacks,

Along with a downturn and dreaded anthrax.

No-one could bother to hang up a stocking,

But since they'd stay empty, that wasn't so shocking.

Losses and layoffs meant sugar plums for none,

Old Man Recession had St Nick on the run.

The suits were all tossing and turning in bed,

Replaying the awful events in each head.

Could you blame them for wishing to just fly the coop,

The way WPP tried to dodge Tempus Group?

My CEO in her kerchief and I in my cap,

Had just settled down for a Xanax-fuelled nap.

When out on the terrace there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,

But a miniature Concorde, and eight tiny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,

I knew in a moment - Duh! - it must be St Nick.

More rapid than Rapid Shave his coursers they came,

And he whistled and shouted and called them by name.

"Now, Dooner! Now, Levy! Now, Martin, yes Sir!"

"Let's banish Osama, that mangy old cur."

"Let's look to the future, let's not be so blue,"

"It's got to be better in Two Thousand Two."

"On, Wren! On Haupt, that Bcom3 guy!"

"Onward, de Pouzilhac, let's make the gloom fly!"

"From BBDO to FCB to the Y&R halls,"

"Now dash away, doomsayers, dash away all!"

So up to the housetop the supremos they flew,

With the sleigh full of new business, and St Nicholas too.

And then soft as a Twinkie I heard on the roof,

The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

As I drew in my head, not to muss my new bucket,

Down the chimney St Nick came with words sounding like "**** it!"

"Where are the stockings? Where is the wreath?"

Our lack of good cheer caused him no end of grief.

He started to scold us for not having a tree,

"Are you waiting for the recession to end in '03?"

"You agency bosses don't keep up your chins!"

His mouth was drawn down as he recounted our sins.

"The road to a comeback starts in each home,"

"If you're not going to bother, I'm headed for Nome."

His eyes how they flashed! His dimples were flushed!

On to the recovery bandwagon I rushed.

"O Santa, my Santa, we've all been so wrong!"

"Thanks to your visit, I'll be changing my song."

"No more will I offer drab requiems,"

"From now on, 'Happy Days Are Here Again'."

Now he had a big grin just like W and Tony,

His Colgate smile told me he wasn't a phoney.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

Hung the stockings and filled them like a good clerk.

For me and my partner, a new copywriter,

And now our agency's prospects couldn't be brighter.

We're sure to get clients to lift their adspend,

Bringing the mean old recession to a blessed, swift end.

His work winding down, St Nick gave me a nod,

He rose up the chimney! I cried "Omigod!"

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,

And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

(Our new copywriter I'm sure will update that line,

With a modern-day version that will scan here just fine.)

But I heard St Nick exclaim, ere the coast was clear,

"Happy holidays to all, and to all a good New Year!"