Thursday, September 20, 2012
Santa was a smoker?
Upon first reading that Santa had given up smoking and to be honest, it never occurred to me that the jolly, old elf smoked. Recalling the poem ,"The Night Before Christmas", and checking out the exact wording, a line reads: "The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, and the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath." It confirmed as we all know that the man-in-red was a pipe smoker.
The issue of Santa Claus smoking has come up with an edited version of the poem, which has eliminated the referral to a pipe-smoking Santa. A Canadian independent publisher and a smoking cessation advocate, Pamela McColl, has taken it upon herself to edit the poem and eliminate the smoking line in the hope of discouraging young people to smoke. While her goal is admirable, one wonders - me - if this is such a good idea. As mentioned, the line slipped right by me or perhaps I never really gave it much thought. Given the overall vision of the poem as a whole, Santa smoking a pipe didn't strike me as important.
Thinking further, there is no mention in the poem as to how often Santa smoked his pipe. One - me - wonders if he was a regular pipe smoker or an occasional pipe smoker, or a once-in-a-while pipe-smoker, using it once per year when he delivered toys to girls and boys. How do we know whether it was tobacco that Santa smoked or perhaps a non-addictive herb? I mean, there is greenery in the North Pole and Santa being Santa wise and all, he could have known that tobacco was not healthy. Am I right?
Moreover, Frosty the Snowman just could suffer a similar fate. Let's not forget that the popular snowman has/had a corn cob pipe. Could the song incur a similar fate:
"Frosty the Snowman, Was a jolly, happy soul, With a corncob pipe and button nose..."
True there's no mention of whether he at any time actually smoked the pipe but a pipe is a pipe is...and where there's a pipe there could be tobacco and smoke.
As a writer, somehow the tampering with a beloved poem bothers me, even though the intent is honorable. There are some things that should be viewed in the context it was written as Clement Clarke Moore's view of his perfect Christmas.