Santa Never Made Anyone Start Smoking

BlogHer Original Post

How many times have you read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas to your kids? If they're like mine, you've surely done so more than just on Christmas Eve each year. It's a favorite of theirs and both boys nearly have the poem memorized. But they're out of luck, because one independent publisher has changed the wording so that Santa doesn't smoke a pipe anymore. No, really.

According to the National Post story:

Late last year, Canadian independent publisher and smoking cessation advocate Pamela McColl decided to “update” the nearly 200-year-old poem by deleting mention of the stump of his pipe and the wreath of smoke around his head — a move she hopes will deter children from picking up a pack.

The line in question:

Text: The stump of his pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.

Of note: Our version of the book does not show Santa smoking a pipe like apparently some earlier versions, but the line is still in the poem in our book. You know, since it's a classic and all.

I know that's what made me start smoking in college. Santa Claus. As I sat at that party, I thought way back to my version of the book and thought to myself, "Well, if Santa can do it and make it around the world in one night, then I should be just fine!" And now I'm certainly glad that Santa has joined me in the ranks of non-smokers so that we can feel better about our role in society, just like the Man in the Yellow Hat from Curious George. In fact, if I hadn't quit smoking on my own, I'd be more inclined to quit because Santa put the pipe down! Oh wait, no, that's not right. Stories like these make me want to light up again.

But I won't. Here's why I think this idea is bogus.

I really don't like it when people smoke around my kids. Some of it's about their precious little lungs, but most if it is because I know they're going to ask me a billion and one questions about why that person is making a Bad Choice. That's a big thing in our house right now: Bad Choices vs. Good Choices. Their black-and-white brains can't yet wrap around why someone would knowingly and willingly choose to do something that everyone knows is capital-B Bad for you. The conversation will go on for hours or until they decide to talk about space fighters. I don't mind answering their questions though, because that's what parents do; explain the world through their own experiences and points-of-view, help them make heads or tails of the general hypocrisy in the world, and give them the support they need to make their own choices someday.

Do I hope my kids avoid smoking when they're older? Yes, I do. As someone who smoked off and on for years, and still gets a craving now and then, I hope to share my story with them as a reason not to pick up the habit and to help them understand the difference between peer pressure and choices. But more than simply not smoking, I hope my kids will have a respect for old literature, a grasp historical concept, and possess the ability to make their own Good Choices -- and to accept the consequences when they make the Bad ones.

Plus, everyone knows that seven-year-old kids who smoke will get put on the Bad List and thus not get any presents from Santa. Duh.

So, what do you think? Does Pipe-Smoking Santa, illustrated or in poem form, bother you at all?


Family/Moms & Events Section Editor Jenna Hatfield (@FireMom) blogs at Stop, Drop and Blog and The Chronicles of Munchkin Land.

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