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Santa Smoking: Why is this controversial?
Report to Moderator Old 10-11-2012 08:10 AM
Jeff Westover
 
Views: 42,347
Replies: 6
In recent days a Christmas story has unfolded that has just amazed me. It has been everywhere in the media, including on our sites at ChristmasNewswire.com and ChristmasFinest.com.

It is all about a new book of an old story. Publisher Pamela McColl has released a brilliantly illustrated new edition of The Night Before Christmas with one simple edit: she has removed the verse referencing Santa smoking a pipe.

That simple act has drawn a plethora of responses. Here locally, when I showed the book to several Moms when we received review copies they were thrilled with the book. Their focus wasn't so much on the edit as it was with the cheerfully illustrated pages they knew their little ones would clamor for when reading time came. But when I told them of the edit the common response was a shrug of the shoulders. "Who cares?" one mom asked. "I skip over that part anyway with my kids."

But in the media the response has been quite different. Mean even.

Does this silly woman really believe that old Santa smoking his pipe has been the cause of many children smoking. In all my years I have never seen a little child or even a teenager smoking a pipe. How dare she change this beautiful old classical poem than many families have enjoyed each Christmas Eve before children scurry excitedly off to bed.

Here is another scathing review.

McColl is an anti-smoking advocate who works regularly to campaign against the marketing of tobacco to children.

Two things come to mind to me in looking at all the reactions to this book:

1. Really people? The words removed are “The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, and the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath.” . Are removing those words really a violation of anything when reading the book to a four-year-old? Will it stunt their growth? Poison their mind? Will it remove any of the magic so preciously tied to this poem?

2. Isn't Twas the Night Before Christmas the most mimicked poem in history? Haven't you read millions of versions of the poem mocking everything from parenthood to the workplace? Where is the upset over that?

I guess I don't see what the big deal is. There are literally dozens of choices when buying this poem for your kids when you go to Amazon. You can get the regular edition or the smoke-free edition of Santa. You now have that choice.

Is a crime being committed?

We posted this up to our Facebook page the other day and I was just shocked at the response it got. Some folks were downright riled up over the issue.

I suppose it is because this poem is Christmas. It is the Queen Mother of Christmas magic. Like Santa himself, it just isn't anything you mess with. And that is an attitude I understand.

But I don't agree it needs this level of angst. When you mix the magic of wonderful images with the beauty of verse while holding a small child on your lap...some details in that you just don't need to sweat.
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Replies to Article: Santa Smoking: Why is this controversial?
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Old 10-11-2012, 11:37 AM
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Re: Santa Smoking: Why is this controversial?

The verse is in the public domain, so it can be legally edited, tweaked, or rewritten freely. You make a good point that so many parodies haven't raised the same ire. Why not have an anti-smoking version? After all, the original version is still out there in many forms and has not been banned. But I have to admit that my initial gut reaction was to roll my eyes and think, "Here comes the 'nanny state' again." You're making me think a bit further; after all, this is literary license, NOT legislation. I may disagree with the idea, but the revised version isn't being forced on anyone.
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Old 10-28-2012, 03:12 PM
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Re: Santa Smoking: Why is this controversial?

Sure, I am all for not promoting tobacco use to children, but all the hoo-hah about this wonderfully illustrated edition is a mystery and a half. I read the traditional text to my now grown kids & they do not use, anyway. The bottom line is what you model & teach in your family has a much greater impact on them than this so called controversy.
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Old 10-30-2012, 01:50 PM
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Re: Santa Smoking: Why is this controversial?

smoking surely ain´t healthy...and Your kids will know that if we teach em right...I mean...maybe the illustrators will better start painting Santa as a skinny dude...because it is very unhealthy to be obese, too
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Old 07-19-2013, 06:54 AM
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Re: Santa Smoking: Why is this controversial?

I am also against smoking and all that being said, your children will listen to you instructing them about the dangers of smoking. They will choose to or not to light up. Let us just remember times are changing but the old story with its great images will be there forever.

Merry Christmas every one of us,
St. Nicholas
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Old 08-15-2013, 05:59 PM
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Re: Santa Smoking: Why is this controversial?

It's sad when there is a small minority of people that has to butt into everything Christmas and try to ruin it for the rest of us. I have learned however that it's not about them. It's about Jesus, goodwill, lights, decorations and the spirit we feel in our hearts and minds. Yes, Santa has a pipe. Well you deal with a thousand elfs and deadlines all year and you probably would smoke as well. Early Merry Christmas to all from SE Louisiana
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Old 09-02-2013, 08:30 AM
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Re: Santa Smoking: Why is this controversial?

I can't wait until all the olod photos of people have photoshopped smoking out. Then they can start on movies. I think trackrebel had it right:

Quote:
smoking surely ain´t healthy...and Your kids will know that if we teach em right...I mean...maybe the illustrators will better start painting Santa as a skinny dude...because it is very unhealthy to be obese, too
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