'Twas the day after Christmas and all through the (political) house, not a creature was stirring, not even . . . William Donald Schaefer.
It was, indeed, a merry Christmas for many declared candidates for elective office in Maryland next year. When they looked under their brightly baubled fir trees, they found exactly what they'd been wishing for. Santa had been listening to their bedtime prayers.
In a few cases, though, Santa got nasty. Old St. Nick apparently treats politicians the same as he does little boys and girls: If you've been good, you get what you requested; if you've been bad, watch out.
Here's a list of what some of Maryland's politicos found in their stockings yesterday, and also what was missing from the pile of presents:
* Helen Delich Bentley, Republican candidate for governor. Kay-Tel's new ''foot-in-mouth remover'' complete with operating instructions. A recording of ''Serbia, my Serbia'' sung by the Milosevic state choir. Lifetime tickets to the owner's box at Jack Kent Cooke Stadium in Laurel.
* William Seth Shepard, Republican candidate for governor. Some sheepdogs to help round up voters. A copy of the movie classic, ''Miracle on 34th Street.'' Missing: a real miracle.
* Ellen R. Sauerbrey, Republican candidate for governor. A CD recording of ''Conscience of a Conservative'' as recited by Oliver North.
* Bill Brock, Republican almost-candidate for Senate. A state road map. A book entitled, ''Guide to Maryland Pronounciations'' (''Tall-but County,'' ''Wuss-ter County,'' ''Cul-vert County'' and ''Ball-mer, Mur-a-lin'').
* Paul S. Sarbanes, Democratic U.S. Senator. A cassette recording of ''Solidarity Forever'' sung by the entire governing // board of the AFL-CIO. Missing: a personality.
* Parris N. Glendening, Democratic candidate for governor. Lifetime tickets to the owner's box at Jack Kent Cooke Stadium at Camden Yards. Missing: a personality.
* Melvin A. Steinberg, Democratic candidate for governor. No presents under his tree, because he celebrated the holiday season early with seven nights of Hanukkah. His menorah gifts included a lifetime set of tickets to the owners' boxes at the Frank De Francis Memorial Multi-Sports Complex at Laurel and a copy of a new movie, ''Honey, I Blew Up the Governor.''
Missing: a campaign strategy.
* American Joe Miedusiewski, Democratic candidate for governor. A road map of Maryland and a driver who can navigate beyond the confines of Baltimore's ''Fighting First'' district. A copy of the movie ''Network'' and newscaster Howard Beal's immortal line, ''We're mad as hell and we're not going to take it any more!''
Missing: a shorter name for the September ballot.
* Mary H. Boergers, Democratic candidate for governor. A road map of Baltimore and a guide dog to take her around.
Missing: unlimited access to Emily's List.
* Kurt L. Schmoke, Democratic mayor of Baltimore. Lifetime tickets to the owner's box at Memorial Stadium for Baltimore Rough Riders games in the Canadian Football League.
Missing: A ''Tesseract'' program for the entire city government. Also missing: A new Board of Estimates.
* Jacqueline F. McLean, Democratic City Comptroller. A taxpayer-funded sabbatical for as long as it takes the state prosecutor to complete his investigation.
Missing: A winning lottery ticket. Also missing: Michele McCloud.
* Thomas V. Mike Miller, Democratic state Senate President. A domed stadium at College Park. An enlarged equestrian center in Upper Marlboro. Season tickets to the owner's box at Jack Kent Cooke Stadium in Clinton. Missing: a friend in the governor's mansion.
* William Donald Schaefer, Democratic governor. Lifetime tickets the W.D. Schaefer Football Dome at Camden Yards for all home games of the Baltimore Rams.
Missing: a ''free ride'' in the 1995 race for Baltimore mayor. Also missing: a gubernatorial candidate for 1994 he can call his own.
* Roger Hayden, Republican Baltimore County Executive. Lifetime season ticket to all games of the Colorado Silver Bullets, an all-female baseball team. Missing: a few friends in county government.
* Robert R. Neall, Republican Anne Arundel County Executive. A second chance to run for governor. Missing: a new career.
* Sharon Pratt Kelly, Democratic mayor of the District of Columbia. Season tickets to the owner's box at Jack Kent Cooke Stadium in Washington, D.C. Missing: a glimmer of a chance of being re-elected.
* Jack Kent Cooke, billionaire football owner. Lifetime tickets to the Jack Kent Cooke Stadium somewhere.
Missing: a decent football team.
Barry Rascovar is editorial-page director of The Sun. His column appears here each Sunday.