‘Twas The Night Before…Censorship of The Most Beloved Christmas Poem

Hi Readers! I hope you will run and hide any copies you might have of “Twas kfknrznkds
the Night Before Christmas,
” a poem that has apparently been corrupting young minds — and lungs — sinc3 1822.  You’ll recall that in the poem, St. Nick is not without his vices:  “The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, and the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath.” 

That’s right — Santa’s a smoker. Thank goodness a new version is coming out this year that will stem the tide of children drawn, zombie like, to that ever-more-popular hobby, pipe-smoking, because that’s the kind of pull this poem has on them! According to the website Market Watch:

Canadian publisher Pamela McColl was compelled to edit the most famous poem in the English language in the interest of protecting young readers. “Exposure to the depiction of Santa smoking a pipe cannot be good,” says the single title small press publisher. Santa has been smoking in Clement C. Moore’s holiday poem New York Times Bestselling Twas The Night Before Christmas for 189 years and McColl says it’s time readers had an alternate version. Parents agree and are opting for a smoke-free Santa for Christmas 2012.

McColl adds that the intent of this edit was to secure the future of this popular poem and not to see it cast aside for being at odds with the needs of children. Parents tell of children worrying about Santa’s health due to smoking and of ripping out specific pages to avoid children being exposed to the tobacco imagery and verse.

Yes, it so much healthier for children’s psyches to see their frantic parents tearing pages out of beloved books. But apparently that’s what this publisher — who does sound pretty minor — believes we must do. And I guess she expects to find a market because OUR kids (versus all the other generations since 1822) are THE most vulnerable in history. One two-line glimpse of Santa’s wicked ways   and their future is a dark one indeed.

And we haven’t even TALKED about Santa’s obesity problem. – L.

McCall Magazine, Night Before Xmas by George Eastman House

I’ll bet that girl ended up a pipe fiend!

114 Responses to ‘Twas The Night Before…Censorship of The Most Beloved Christmas Poem

  1. Mark Davis September 28, 2012 at 10:01 pm #

    Oh good lord, how ridiculous. What kids need to be protected from is busybodies like this publisher.

  2. Lollipoplover September 28, 2012 at 10:03 pm #

    Children aren’t worried about Santa’s health. They just want to be on the Nice list and get presents. The fanatical parents who need everything PC are the ones to blame here. It’s fiction!!! Get over yourselves.

    Gosh, if they really overanalyized this to death, they would ban Christmas! Who lets a strange, old man into your house at night??!

  3. Sarah in WA September 28, 2012 at 10:06 pm #

    Ha! When I was substitute teaching a 2nd grade class, the kids were making construction paper snowmen. (Of course, it was not Santa Claus, as this was a public school.) One of the boys asked if he could make a pipe for his snowman. I had to stop and think about this. Traditionally, Frosty has a pipe. I said, “Because we often see Frosty with a pipe, and that’s part of the tradition, then it’s okay. I’m not saying smoking is okay. In this case, it’s just part of a decoration for a snowman. No one is really smoking.” This seemed to satisfy the kids. A few minutes later I noticed that another boy was making a cigarette for his snowman. Hmmm . . . I had to draw the line there.

    Of course, I was just the substitute–I didn’t have to answer to parents for this! (Which is one of the best things about being a sub.) I think the boy in this case who was making a cigarette was just testing and pushing boundaries, as kids often do. I subbed at this particular school quite a bit and never caught any kids smoking behind the building. 🙂

    Once again, parents need to talk to their kids. My son has asked about smoking and what it is (he’s 5), and I’ve simply explained it to him, and told him the truth: it’s unhealthy. Let’s educate our kids rather than trying to sweep everything under the rug for them!

  4. K September 28, 2012 at 10:37 pm #

    Please tell me your comments are satirical. This can’t really be true.

    As lollipoplover points out, if real, Santa would be astonishingly creepy and we wouldn’t let a lech like that anywhere near our children… seriously? He watches you all year, he knows when you are sleeping, when your awake, and all of your good and bad deeds? So, like in the tub, too? Ewww. And, he’s a complete stranger that wants us to cozy up to him on his lap and tell him our most private wishes? Gross.

  5. Nerd-faced Girl September 28, 2012 at 11:05 pm #

    So, if one of my children expressed concern for Santa’s health, I’m sure I could make something up that would satisfy them.

    “He just likes to chew on the end of the pipe; he doesn’t inhale.”

    “Santa’s a magical,immortal person who can smoke a pipe without it harming him.”

    “Everyone used to smoke a pipe back when this poem was written, but Santa has given it up since then for his health.”

    or even:

    “It’s just a poem, dear. The writer made the whole thing up.”

  6. PaigeN September 28, 2012 at 11:11 pm #

    According to the article “Nicotine addiction is a pediatric disease and prevention must start early.”

    Really? PEDIATRIC DISEASE? Like Cancer?

    Someone has too much time on their hands and no original ideas…

  7. CrazyCatLady September 28, 2012 at 11:24 pm #

    Lung cancer? Doesn’t worry my kid. He is worried about global warming.

    And no, I don’t think he will start smoking because some picture books he saw when he was young and believed influenced him as a teen to pick up a pipe.

  8. mollie September 28, 2012 at 11:38 pm #

    Oh, that’s pretty funny, yes. I have to admit I’ve always kind of loathed Santa anyway, because as a Jewish kid growing up in a WASP suburb in the midwest, being told year after year, “Santa must have skipped your house because you were bad” had the effect of turning me off of the whole enterprise.

    I try to avoid Santa at all costs. My 8-year-old believes, so I let her, but it’s all I can do to keep myself from embittered rants about the whole “extrinsic motivation” ideas around Christmas…

  9. Ted September 28, 2012 at 11:40 pm #

    I wonder how much the publisher’s desire to “secure the future of this popular poem”, was to secure the copyrights to this particular edit?

  10. Donald September 28, 2012 at 11:46 pm #

    Remember the old days when it was a parents job to teach children right from wrong? Now it’s the parents job to eliminate anything (real or imaginary) that can possibly be wrong. That way the kids can choose only right or right. (or facebook)

    The funniest one I heard was the nursery rhyme Ba Ba Rainbow Sheep. (previously Ba Ba Black Sheep without the racial issue)

  11. craftykd September 29, 2012 at 12:13 am #

    I don’t know…

    I’m usually the first one to call out ridiculousness, but when I was having a conversation about smoking with my 5 year old she said, “Smoking can’t be that bad ’cause Santa smokes.” I was like “What?!?!?!?!” I had no idea what she was talking about, but she ran and got her Night Before Christmas book and showed me just how “smoke encircled his head like a wreath”…

    I was stunned because I don’t even notice that stuff anymore and we had just read the book; but she had remembered it, assimilated it, and somehow made a leap that it couldn’t be as bad as people said because Santa did it, after all…

    I like Nerd-faced Girl’s comments, those are great and would help mitigate any confusion, but I think it would be a mistake to think that kids don’t make judgement calls and weigh what people based even on “harmless” stories…

  12. Nate September 29, 2012 at 12:14 am #

    Lenore, you linked to a press release. That wasn’t a real story, and that means you could have reasonably ignored it.

  13. Stacey September 29, 2012 at 12:20 am #

    Hey kids there’s a creepy old jolly fat man who sees everything you do and lives in a remote isolated part of the world where hardly anyone sees him all year! how are ya feelin? Fine? okay, he’s gonna snaek into our house on Christmas Eve while we’re all sleeping! still fine? You have to give him cookies and milk or else God only knows what he’ll do! still good? He enslaved a group of elves! Fine with that? He smokes a pipe……………..AHHH okay calm down, I was just kidding about the pipe-smoking!

  14. CrazyCatLady September 29, 2012 at 12:30 am #

    Ba Ba Rainbow Sheep? Where exactly do you find them? I want some wool!

    Ba Ba Black Sheep is not racist. It is about getting wool to make clothing from. Black wool couldn’t be died, so yes, it was worth less, except maybe to the Puritans. Sheep come on only a couple of colors that I saw at fair this year, black and white. There may be brown. But not rainbow – at least while on the sheep. The people who revised the poem need to visit some farms, or at least look up sheep on Wikipedia!

  15. Beth September 29, 2012 at 12:31 am #

    I collect Night Before Christmas books. Guess from 2012 forward I’ll have to check the book for the traditional wording.

    The thought of kids being worried about Santa’s health and parents ripping the offending page out of the book just makes me…..laugh.

  16. Taradlion September 29, 2012 at 1:07 am #

    Hmmm….it is interesting how kids view smoking. When my daughter read Ramona she declared, “Ramona’s dad smokes!”… I didn’t remember (or register?) that having read the books in the late 1970’s. I talked to her about the fact that many people smoked (even in movie theaters and on airplanes) and that people realized it could make you very sick.

    Being Jewish, my daughter heard about Santa and was a bit worried about the fact that he was called “Santa CLAWS”…I wonder if they will rewrite the part about being covered with soot from coming down the chimney ?

  17. Yan Seiner September 29, 2012 at 1:08 am #

    What an opportunity to talk about how our ideas about health have changed…. “Back then” people were old at 50; today they live to 70 or 80. It’s a shame to erase that. It didn’t matter as much if you smoked; smoking was expensive so people smoked less, and people died of diseases that are easily curable today, so life was not as precious.

  18. Lihtox September 29, 2012 at 2:09 am #

    I wouldn’t have a big hissy fit over it or anything, but I’d welcome an edition of The Night Before Christmas that skipped the smoking bit It’s not like it spoils the rhythm or the plot of the poem to do it; you don’t even have to replace it with Santa eating carrots or anything like that, just leave it out.

  19. Kate September 29, 2012 at 2:10 am #

    Considering how popular pipe smoking is today (and I’m talking traditional tobacco legit pipe smoking), I’m afraid Santa’s sinister and sordid ad campaign has failed miserably.

  20. Emily September 29, 2012 at 2:19 am #

    When I was a kid, I had a toy pipe that blew bubbles, if you filled it with bubble potion. It didn’t look like a pipe; it looked like a multi-coloured, fluorescent piece of plastic, but it was understood that it was “supposed” to be a pipe. It didn’t encourage me to smoke, because I knew that smoking was unhealthy, but it was fun, because the way the bubbles came out of the pipe, it looked a bit like smoke. Anyway, my point is, I’d be surprised if such a toy was still on the market, because the Political Correctness Brigade probably put the kibosh on it years ago (not that I’m even that old, I’m 28), but it’s a shame, because it was a fun toy. All it takes is a little context–parents can easily say, “Yes, smoking is unhealthy, but this is just pretend.”

  21. This girl loves to talk September 29, 2012 at 2:26 am #

    I’d be happy for an edition without as we espout smoking as a big no no in our family… however we have a lovely night before christmas book and they know that we don’t like smoking… and plus we dont believe in santa in our house! so that part of him can be added to the ‘belief’ (yikes I know but my first child just knew by 2/3 year old santa wasnt real and then we never had to keep up the charade 🙂 because of this in our house we often talk about how old santa is and that pipe smoking was a bit more normal back in the day before people realised it was bad for you.

  22. Connie September 29, 2012 at 2:48 am #

    Please……My dad smoked, which I hated so there was no chance I would start. As a kid I didn’t even really notice Santa smoked as it was just part of the poem. How really stupid can we get. Not only that but am I now going to have to re-memorize a politically correct version of the poem I have known by heart for over 50 years.(that comment was tongue in cheek, by the way) I used to recite this for my grandmother and my SMOKING grandfather. You can probably count on the fingers of one hand (with fingers left over) the number of kids that took up smoking because of this poem. I shudder to think what we could do to other poetry.

  23. CrazyCatLady September 29, 2012 at 3:12 am #

    My uncle smoked a pipe. My grandparents smoked cigarettes. I prefer the smell of a pipe any day over that of cigarettes or cigars (which my step father now smokes because cigarettes are too expensive.) Not saying one is better than another, but as my uncle smoked a pipe for about 20 minutes a day at most, where my grandparents were up to a pack a day each, it was much easier for him to quit.

    Now, if Santa is smoking at each house, he is getting a lot of smoke in. Maybe it is all part of his magic. (Hmm, smoking the magic weed….nah, don’t need to go there!)

    But I will say that smoking a pipe is not done the same way that people smoke cigarettes. Think about this: when is the last time you saw someone with a pipe in their mouth driving down the road? How about a cigarette?

  24. Warren September 29, 2012 at 3:16 am #

    @lihtox and craftykd

    It is attitudes like yours that will allow the paranoid pc masses to change everything they disagree with. I am sick and tired of all this crap.

    Because of the politcally correct idiots out their so many things have had to change, or are lost, or are at risk of demise.
    This is no different than Nascar main title sponsor for decades, Winston was forced out, because it is a tobacco co. The pc crowd was worried that it would cause increases in new smokers. Same with Players in Canada, no longer allowed to sponsor pro tennis. DuMaurier lost it’s jazz festival and fireworks events. Molson Brewery can no longer sponsor Indy racing. And so on, and so on.
    These events poured millions into local economies, on an annual basis.
    None of them were responsible for kids smoking, new smokers, kids drinking, or new drinkers. Anyone that thinks sponsoring events is why there are new drinkers or smokers are so simple minded it isn’t funny.
    I used to smoke, and I enjoy a good drink or cold beer.
    Why did I start smoking? Peer pressure, and trying something that I was strictly forbidden from trying. Stupid yes. Regrets yes. Because tobacco companies sponsored sports and events…………….ROTFLMFAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Why did I start enjoying beer and Jack Daniels? Had nothing to do with sports, it has to do with peer pressure and I like beer and Jack Daniels.
    And for those that believe I should wish someone Happy Holidays………………too damn bad. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

  25. SKL September 29, 2012 at 3:49 am #

    So I assume she’s still OK with him sliding down a chimney and getting coated with soot, as long as he doesn’t have any tobacco on his person . . . .

  26. AW13 September 29, 2012 at 3:50 am #

    YES! THIS is why I tried a cigarette at 15 and started smoking at 16! It isn’t because I was dumb and rebellious, it is because when I was younger, I’d memorized the Night Before Christmas and Santa smoked!!! *snort* I didn’t even remember that part of the poem.

    @taradlion: I remember Ramona’s dad smoking. I think that in one of the later books (written in the 1980s, I think), Ramona undertakes a campaign to get her dad to quit smoking. He does, eventually, but I recall that there was some tension there.

  27. SKL September 29, 2012 at 3:52 am #

    When my kids see smoking in the old books and movies, I just say “people didn’t know how unhealthy it was in those days.”

    If kids from those days could look forward in time to us sitting on couches watching TV while filling our fat bellies for hours every day, they’d have to come to the conclusion that people forgot how unhealthy it is to live like this.

  28. Nanci September 29, 2012 at 4:08 am #

    Anytime my kids see an old movie/TV show where people are smoking I’ve taken the opportunity to explain to them that back a long time ago no one knew that smoking was bad for your health. It was something almost everyone did. We’ve talked about how things change over time and how science and medicine are always making advances and now that we know all the damage that smoking does we should not smoke. So Santa smoking could really be used as a learning moment about science and medicine!

    Just as a funny side note, we do not know anyone personally who does smoke. My kids had seen the Disney version of 101 dalmations and Curella DeVil smokes. One day at the gas station my son who was about 4 sees someone smoking and yells mom look that lady has a fire stick. I have no idea what he means, and he just keeps saying you know a fire stick, a fire stick. Finally he says a fire stick like Curella DeVil has, and then I realized he was talking about someone smoking a cigarette!!

  29. Jenna September 29, 2012 at 5:18 am #

    We’re Mormons, so I grew up with the edit, “The stump of a bubble pipe he held tight in his teeth. And the bubbles encircled his head like a wreath.”

    When the kids were old enough to read and therefore question, we just explained that this version was before Santa became Mormon and he gave it up after joining our church and switched permanently to bubbles. 🙂

  30. wahoofive September 29, 2012 at 5:27 am #

    This is a truly pedantic niggle, but the name of the poem in question is “A Visit From St. Nicholas”, not the first line.

  31. kc September 29, 2012 at 6:07 am #

    I don’t think the poem should be changed (or any other original texts that in current times might not be PC). Bit of an extreme example but to me, this is like re-writing history books to remove any unsavoury events.

    The world is not black and white. We shouldn’t bubble wrap our kids and then expect them to somehow cope with the world (good, bad and ugly).

    If your kid asks about Santa smoking, use this as an opportunity to talk to them about it. Nerd-faced Girl’s suggestions were pretty good. I guess it’d be tailored to the kid’s age.

    To be honest, I’m pretty sure kids will be far more influenced by friends/TV and film/relatives than good ol Santa.

  32. Donna September 29, 2012 at 6:52 am #

    Kids stop believing in Santa Claus at what, around 8? and kids start smoking in their teens?

    So we are supposed to believe that kids are so influenced by a poem they read a handful of times in early life that they start smoking many years later because Santa – an entity that they no longer believe in and haven’t for years – did it?

  33. Rhea September 29, 2012 at 7:14 am #

    What about the word ‘breast’? Surely that should be censored. And what about Santa being dressed head to toe in fur? That’s certainly evil and cruel, we can’t let children think Santa would wear dead animals can we?!

  34. Nicole September 29, 2012 at 11:10 am #

    I’m floored! I’m another one who memorized the poem (Grandma used to bribe me with candy, and I can recite several.) – and I never smoked, never was interested in smoking, and rooted wholeheartedly for Ramona in her anti-smoking campaign. I believe changing old literature is ridiculous!

  35. Shanshad September 29, 2012 at 12:23 pm #

    Smoking is bad enough, but wait until they go after Santa’s weight! Or age! Or the fact he’s wearing fur!

    There was some controversy a few years ago when the publishers edited an old photo on the back of Goodnight Moon. Clement Hurd, the illustrator was photographed with a cigarette in his hand and the publisher took it out of the photo–making the resulting photo sort of ridiculous.

    I think it may be important to address these things with kids, especially if they notice, but it’s not like we should hide them away. Kids today may notice smoking or pipes more than they would have years ago because it is no longer the accepted norm.

  36. Katie September 29, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

    Good. Grief.

  37. Warren September 29, 2012 at 1:37 pm #

    Sorry bout the rant earlier, folks. Just that this story brought back memories of last year, and really turned up my anger.
    Last year, David Suzuki the enviromentalist, had a campaign going, with Santa. He even had a video made of him and Santa looking at homes in Canadian cities. Why? Because David was telling kids that the polar ice cap was melting due to global warming, and that Santa’s Village was going to sink, into the ocean. He also was saying that donating to his foundation, which fights global warming, would help save Santa. Nothing but pure emotional blackmail, of the parents. The kids get scared, and mom and dad have to donate to make them feel better.

    Thank God for NORAD. NORAD has been tracking Santa via radar, and on Christmas Eve, gives a live up to the minute location for Santa’s Sleigh, around the world.
    When NORAD heard what David had done, they issued a press release, that told the children they had a submarine under the polar ice cap, and that there was more than enough ice, and Santa, the elves and reindeer were all fine.

    Cheers to our military, and in the spirit of the season, I wanted to hang David Suzuki by the chimney, by his toes.

  38. Warren September 29, 2012 at 1:41 pm #

    For those with Santa age children it is a great site.


    I think they are also on facebook.

  39. Warren September 29, 2012 at 2:04 pm #

    Looked up Pamela McColl, and ARRRRRRRRRRRRGH!!!!
    She is canadian. As a proud canadian I apologize to the world. This woman does not represent us, one bit.

    I sent her a message, and am waiting for a response.
    Told my kids about this lady, and they think she is “one crazy wackadoodle”. Their words.

  40. Tabatha September 29, 2012 at 2:07 pm #

    I just asked my thirteen year old if he remembers the poem and his reply was, YES (note he used sarcasm here like I should of known he remembered it) and I asked him if Santa smoking in the poem makes him want to smoke, and he said “NO, cause its wrong! And it’s just a poem” I think sometimes the wisdom of kids is best, after all it is JUST a poem and it’s not like they are running around stuffing pipes in kids mouths every Christmas when the poem is recited. They should just leave well enough alone.

  41. SKL September 29, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

    A side effect of “smoking is horrible and we don’t acknowledge its existence” is that kids are awkward when they are around people who actually do smoke.

    When my kids were about 4, we were shopping at a plaza in a low-income area where people were sitting on the benches smoking. My kid piped up, “is that lady going to die of cancer?” or some such thing. My instruction was for her to mind her own business.

    I agree with the comment about Santa’s chubbiness. My obese sister noted one day, “I don’t like that Brother smokes, but I won’t say anything about it, because now overeating is just as deadly as smoking.”

    It’s kind of stupid to talk to kids as if smoking or not is “the” life choice that’s going to make or break us. Some basic facts that my kids know: (1) everybody dies; (2) there are many ways to die and each of us is going to go one of those ways; (3) healthy, sensible choices give you a better chance of enjoying more time on earth, but there is no guarantee of it.

    I was looking over my kids’ 1st grade health book this week. I disagreed with about half of the stuff they are teaching. That caffeine and alcohol are unhealthy, for example. (I agree that alcohol is unhealthy for kids, and I don’t drink it myself, but studies prove a daily glass of wine extends life, right?) What’s unhealthy is addiction, which they don’t really get into. They said kids should never cook or use cleaning products. They show a picture of a benign pocket knife as an example of dangerous weapons they should never touch. They insist that sunscreen must be applied frequently every time kids go into the sun (and fail to note that some sunscreens are linked to cancer). They say don’t talk to strangers. They push the “food pyramid” which has been proven unhealthy. This is just what I’m remembering off the top of my head. It would be funny except that my kids will be penalized if they answer “wrong” on the test. I also didn’t like the way they went on and on and on about cigarettes, because it’s a law of nature that the more you focus on something, the more of that thing you get. (My kids aren’t around smokers so there’s no reason for them to spend undue time thinging about cigaretters.) Another thing I didn’t like was the way they went on and on (in several chapters) about commercials and choosing consumer products. What if your family doesn’t watch TV and doesn’t even shop in places that sell “conventional” products? And isn’t 1st grade a little young to drill kids about choosing between Colgate and Toms toothpaste? We talk about commercialization at home, but do they really need to be tested on it?

  42. SKL September 29, 2012 at 2:12 pm #

    Katie: what’s good about grief? Shame on you. It’s time we rewrote Charlie Brown.

  43. AW13 September 29, 2012 at 2:14 pm #

    @Warren – I remember when the NORAD tracking first began. I was in high school, but my cousins were 6, 4, and 2, and they were so, so excited each time the news came on to track Santa’s movements. It was very sweet, and while I don’t think my son has really grasped the idea of Santa yet, I’m looking forward to watching the tracking with him on Christmas Eve.

    As far as David Suzuki goes, I’d never heard of him until your post. But here is my soapbox: yes, we need to take care of our environment, and yes, we need to teach our children that it is our obligation to take care of our environment. However, that needs to be done with age-appropriate information. Scaring the hell out of kids by telling them that Santa’s home has sunk into the arctic waters is not acceptable to me, and I’m an ardent environmentalist!

  44. Katie September 29, 2012 at 2:28 pm #

    I figure if a child’s old enough to notice something like this, they’re old enough to understand a basic historical context explanation.

  45. celiadelia September 29, 2012 at 2:34 pm #

    That is b.s. And pipe smoke smells delicious.

  46. Sara September 29, 2012 at 2:48 pm #

    There are so many things wrong with this that I keep starting this post over…Just say NO to censorship.

  47. SKL September 29, 2012 at 2:51 pm #

    I recall one year – there was something going on in Atlanta – Olympics or somethign – and a dude whose last name was Rudolph blew off a bomb and was then a fugitive. So the national news was blaring in every kid’s living room about how the police were looking through the woods for Rudolph and were willing to take him down if necessary. There were many complaints from parents whose kids were crying, “don’t shoot Rudolph!” so the newscasters came on and explained that it wasn’t “that” Rudolph whom the police were after. 🙂

  48. Emily September 29, 2012 at 2:54 pm #

    Wait a second, why are we talking about this poem now? It’s not even close to Christmas time yet.

  49. Sara September 29, 2012 at 3:02 pm #

    That editor has lost her mind. Also FYI to the crazy editor who seems to think Santa smoking a pipe is bad, George Burns smoked like a chimney and lived to almost 100. My dad never smoked a day in his life, was vegan, and a competative raquetball player and died of cancer at a fairly young age. Not that I endorse smoking…no…and not that I bash a healthy lifestyle…no. However, that editor is crazy if she thinks she can keep kids healthy and help them live a long life by censoring a Santa poem.

  50. Warren September 29, 2012 at 3:08 pm #

    I was thinking back to when my kids still held the Santa legend true. We were not helping Santa’s health, one bit.
    Because we usually had friends and family over on Christmas Eve, there were leftovers. Pizza, finger foods and such.
    My kids would always make him a plate with leftovers, and an arrow pointing to the microwave. Their logic, it was cold out, and he might like something hot. LOL, they also figured Santa may want a change from milk or hot chocolate, and since he was well over 100 yrs old, he was old enough for a cold beer. The reindeers always got their carrots. No not the bagged ones, I had to make sure they were the fresh one, with the greens still on.
    Yes I am an overprotective parent, but in the best way possible. I try to protect kids rights to enjoy things like Santa, Christmas, Easter, Easter Bunny and the like, without pc crap, politics, censorship or anything.
    These are the parts of childhood that should be exempt of all adult interference. They are simple enjoyable times, for our kids. We cannot let the overbearing, overprotective, oversensitive, paranoid masses affect them.

  51. Rick September 29, 2012 at 4:23 pm #


    Are you kidding me? I have nothing intelligent or germane to add to this. I’m dumbstruck. There are no words that can express how patently stupid I think this is.

  52. AlanaM September 29, 2012 at 4:54 pm #

    One of my most beloved books is a copy of TNBC. It was printed in 1900. We pull it out every Christmas Eve and read it, smoking and all!

  53. SKL September 29, 2012 at 5:01 pm #

    Funny regarding pipes – the other day the pastor was doing the children’s moment and he was going to give all the kids “wiki stix” for their takeaway trinket. He mentioned that we used “pipe cleaners” back in the day. I can just see my kids thinking “Drano?”

    Remember when “cigar box” was one of our required school supplies?

    I’ve never been a smoker, by the way, even though my dad smoked pipes back when I believed in Santa!

  54. Jen Connelly September 29, 2012 at 5:06 pm #

    Ridiculous. I’m vehemently against changing original texts to fit the PC mindset.

    We have the board book version of the poem. I usually read it to the kids around Christmas. I don’t think any of them have ever noticed the smoking.

    My dad smoked a pipe when I was a kid. Maybe like once a month or something. He had several pipes and I loved the smell of it. It was so much nicer than my mom’s cigarette’s. She had a pack a day habit until her mid-40s. She died at 51 from a stroke (had her first stroke in her early 40s but it was misdiagnosed).

    My mom smoked my entire childhood. All her siblings smoked and I was around them a lot. All the adults I knew smoked when I was a kid. I have never touched a cigarette in my life. I never even thought about. I hated the smell. It made me physically sick. I didn’t realize how much until I went to college and wasn’t around it. The first time I went home for a visit I couldn’t breathe inside the house and my mom stopped smoking around me.

  55. pentamom September 29, 2012 at 7:37 pm #

    Gee, let’s apply the logic of “teaching kids to avoid harmful behaviors by pretending things don’t exist and fearing to discuss them” to other things. I thought we weren’t supposed to do that.

  56. Lollipoplover September 29, 2012 at 8:23 pm #

    @SKL- I had my kids ask (loudly, of course) “Why do they want to kill themselves?” when seeing smokers in public. We’ve had lots of conversations about smoking and vices, it’s hard not to when family members (MIL) and neighbors smoke. I don’t want them to judge people because of their vices. Nobody’s perfect. I surely don’t want to sweep the whole smoking conversation away, like smoking doesn’t exist.

    If parents don’t like the pipe-smoking passage in this poem, there’s this amazing thing you can do when reading- you can skip it! Stop trying to correct the whole world, past and present, to be all butterfies and rainbows and unicorns. It doesn’t make smoking go away.

    Hey, Santa smoked a pipe and he still lives for hundreds of years! And he eats an unreal amount of cookies ladened with trans fats.

  57. Jenny Islander September 30, 2012 at 3:18 am #

    Relevant to the discussion:

  58. Lihtox September 30, 2012 at 3:19 am #

    If smoking were an essential part of who Santa is, then I’d say fine. I’m not interested in Santa losing weight. But to me the pipe is a tiny little detail that doesn’t add anything to the story, so yeah I’d be happy to skip it, and if there’s an edition of the book that skips it for me, that just makes it easier. (I change many stories that I read to my daughter in one way or another, but she’s learning to read and she’s going to catch me eventually.)

    And note that I’m saying “AN edition” not “ALL editions”. I realize that the poem is much more precious to some people than it is to me, and the pipe-smoking is more essential to the character of Santa Claus than it is to me, and those people deserve to have the original version available to them. Choices!

  59. Lihtox September 30, 2012 at 3:21 am #

    (I WOULD have been annoyed if they hadn’t included the smoking in The Lord of the Rings movies, by the way; that story IS precious to me and I prefer it the way it’s written. But if someone wanted a version of the books without smoking and got it printed, more power to them, although I’m not going to buy it.)

  60. Donna September 30, 2012 at 3:56 am #

    Why exactly should you have choices about the words of a poem written BY SOMEONE ELSE? I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that Clement Moore has died sometime during the 190 years that the poem has been in existence and he isn’t making the changes. The poem is probably pretty damn “precious” to him as written and he is the only one who matters. It is Clement Moore’s work of art and changing his art to mold it to anyone else’s sensibilities is completely wrong. Should I get to insist that clothes be painted onto the David because I don’t want my child to see a nude man? Maybe I should also be able to insist on painting over the Sistine Chapel because it depicts God and I’m an atheist. A piece of written art should be considered no less permanent and should be left in the form published by the author regardless of whether it is “precious” to you or not.

    You should have one choice and one choice only when it comes to other people’s art – enjoy it as created by the artist or don’t enjoy it at all. Last I checked, nobody is required by law under penalty of death to read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. In fact, I bet there are a substantial number of people in this world who grow to happy, well-adjusted, productive members of their society without having ever read it. If a smoking Santa bothers you immensely, simply don’t read the poem.

  61. Lihtox September 30, 2012 at 4:45 am #

    @Donna: Your argument is incredibly militant. First, I am not talking about “painting over the Sistine Chapel” (which would destroy the original for all time), I am talking about creating a revised version of a poem. The original still exists, you can still enjoy it, and you would not be “required by law under penalty of death” to read the revised version. Get over it and go on with your life. The poem is in the public domain; people can do whatever they like with it.

    And I am appalled by this notion that you can only enjoy a piece of art “as created by the artist”. The history of art and music and literature is full of examples of people taking old works and reinterpreting them, twisting them into new forms. Shakespeare’s stories weren’t original, but darn it they’re good anyway. How many times has the Odyssey been retold, in how many ways? Heck, the King James Bible is based on older texts; would you have that eliminated as well?

    Excising smoking from a bit of poetry doesn’t compare to Shakespeare, of course, but in arguing against that you went WAY over the top.

  62. Lihtox September 30, 2012 at 4:46 am #

    This is how I see the debate so far:

    Article: Someone is creating a version of The Night Before Christmas without the smoking bit.

    Me: I can understand why that would bother some people, but I for one would actually kind of like it.


    What am I missing here?

  63. gap.runner September 30, 2012 at 5:01 am #

    Things that are “taboo” now can be used to launch a discussion on why they are bad. People above mentioned smoking in old movies and using that to explain that people back in the 1940s thought that smoking was healthy but now we know better.

    There is a new version of “Huckleberry Finn” which uses the word “slave” to refer to Jim instead of “nigger.” When my son was younger, I used to read to him at bedtime. I found an old version of “Huckleberry Finn” at the library, which had the original wording, and read it to my son. I used one night’s bedtime story time to launch a good discussion about why the word “nigger” was used back in Mark Twain’s time and why we should never use it to refer to African-Americans now.

    A while back I read a book called “The Language Police” by Diane Ravich. She talks about how both the left and right are instrumental in editing US textbooks and other children’s stories. For example, people on the right don’t want any references to homosexuality, smoking, drinking alcohol, or single parent families in textbooks. Those on the left want an equal amount of gender and race for the characters in a story. Anything that smacks of a stereotype is a big no-go. Instead of Mom baking cookies and Dad leaving home with a briefcase, it’s the other way around. African-Americans cannot be depicted as athletes or entertainers, Asians cannot be shown sitting at a computer or in a laboratory, women can’t be in the kitchen, and men can’t be in the garage fixing the car. Even kids think that the new stories in their textbooks are ridiculous and totally unrealistic.

  64. Donna September 30, 2012 at 6:32 am #

    “The history of art and music and literature is full of examples of people taking old works and reinterpreting them, twisting them into new forms. Shakespeare’s stories weren’t original, but darn it they’re good anyway.”

    Shakespeare’s STORIES were not originals. Shakespeare’s WORKS were. There is a difference between taking a basic premise, retooling it with your own spin and then publishing it under your own name and rewriting someone else’s work and publishing it under their name as if it is their original work, regardless of whether the original still exists or not. It is no different than altering the Sistine Chapel – but still maintaining that it was painted by Michelangelo – to suit your sensibilities.

    Nobody is saying that you can’t write your own similar poem about the night before Christmas under your own name that excludes smoking. I’m appalled at the idea of publishing the same poem, under Clement Moore’s name, with different words than Clement Moore actually wrote.

    My words here are now in the public domain. That doesn’t mean that it is okay to change them and publish them elsewhere with my name still attached to the revised version. Of course, it could happen, but we shouldn’t support it happening with a brush of our hand and a belief that I what I actually wrote is irrelevant because other people need to have choices in MY sentiments.

  65. Warren September 30, 2012 at 10:01 am #

    So instead of actually reading the original version of the poem to your daughter, you sanitize it to protect her from the evils of smoking. “but she is learning to read, and she’s going to catch me eventually”. Nice lesson mom. Don’t smoke, but it okay to lie.

    Now with that out of the way. Donna, you are again bang on target. Works of art, need to stand the test of time. Something written in 1940 for example, is a reflection of 1940, not 2012, and should be respected as such. If one does not like it, don’t read it. I find it very arrogant for someone to believe they have the right to change another person’s work, because they don’t like it.

    These people who feel they have the right to alter, change, or sanitize other’s works, would be outraged if someone did it to their work. And if they were not outraged, then they have no pride or integrity.

    Donna, I wonder how these sterilizers feel about the crossdressing that went on in Shakespeare’s plays? Since male actors had to play the female parts originally.

  66. Warren September 30, 2012 at 10:09 am #

    For those parents that feel they need to censor or sanitize the world for their kids. Try talking to them. I have seen when parents get caught by their kids, and the kids tend to think that their parents are foolish and crazy for doing it.

    Parents that censor and sanitize the world, are not giving their kids any credit. They know what goes on, and you only look stupid trying to hide what goes on, from them.

  67. Emma D September 30, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

    Actually, Donna, people HAVE taken original works and changed the wording and still kept the artists name to it. Look at the Bible. There are many different translations available. Many different wording and all have the same authors attached.

  68. Taradlion September 30, 2012 at 1:31 pm #

    Another thought, a child who comes to believe that their parents won’t talk about smoking may not approach them to talk about smoking. More so, if the child feels like the parent couldn’t tolerate beloved Santa smoking, perhaps they will go to even greater lengths to hide their own faults (smoking, alcohol, etc)…. Maybe it’s not just a way to bring up what we have learned since the 1940’s about smoking (and how many characters used to smoke: Popeye, original Mr Potato head, Frosty)…but also, sometimes good people do bad things….

    On a side note: TRANSLATIONS may have different wording, but should reflect the original author…

  69. Yan Seiner September 30, 2012 at 2:47 pm #

    There’s a word for this: Bowlderize. Look up the etymology.

    I respect the original works; it lets you talk about the good and bad of the “good old days”. I no longer smoke; I compete in endurance events, my kids swim and play waterpolo and race triathlons – but there’s a picture of me on the family picture wall with a cigarette in my mouth. It lets me talk about the stupid decisions we make as young people that we regret later on. Maybe my kids won’t make all of the dumb mistakes I made.

    I think it’s also an insult to kids. They’re smart enough to know that you;re pulling one over on them. Santa is make-believe. If you treat it that way, he’s not really real. We never pushed the myth in our house but we never shied away from it, so Santa is whatever you want him to be. If he wants to smoke magic smoke that makes rings around his head, so be it. Just remember that you’re not magic.

    You can no more make magic smoke rings than you can survive half the stuff you see in movies or cartoons.

    Think how boring movies and cartoons would be if the characters were actually human. (Just how many times does Wylie Cotote fall off that 3,000′ cliff, anyway?)

  70. Shanshad September 30, 2012 at 2:49 pm #

    Just a thought, many classic come with watered down abridged versions. The wizard of Oz, The count of Monte Cristo, the Three Musketeers, etc. Now, I’m not a huge fan of these versions, but they usually have the author’s name attached to them along with who else worked on it. I know I read such a version of the Count of Monte Cristo back when I was six or seven.

    Also, if we’re arguing about a the purity of the text, many versions have altered “just settled our brains” to “just settled down”.

    I think changing the text to cut out smoking is silly, myself, but as long as no one is trying to replace the original–well hell, people have created some really poor ‘versions’ of the Night Before Christmas’ that make my teeth ache. They don’t last long.

  71. Rebecca September 30, 2012 at 3:29 pm #

    We posted about this craziness, too!


  72. Kimberly September 30, 2012 at 4:24 pm #

    Reminds me of our fruitcake neighbor that wouldn’t let her grandson play with Sis and me. Dad worked for a Miller distributorship. When they sponsored golf tournaments and the like there would be T-shirts. The T-shirts were all adult sizes, because the company didn’t want to be accused of advertising to minors. Sis and I used them as cover ups when doing messy projects. According to fruitcake that meant we would grow up to be drunks.

    This was before large coolers were available retail. Dad’s company would donate ice and coolers to events at my elementary school. They would park across the street at a fiend’s house. One guy would change to a civilian shirt and he and the Janitor would use a flat bed to haul the coolers and cardboard (6 foot by 3 foot pieces used to make the haunted house) over to the school. Every year someone would call and complain about the beer company making deliveries to the school. They also covered over the logo on the coolers with duct tape – they were embossed not stickers like today – made the logo stand out more.

    During the great paper crisis (when I was failing because I couldn’t copy all the notes that had previously been copied and handed out 3 walls of notes per class period) Dad delivered a panel truck full of boxes of paper to my school and Sis’s school. He had to park across the street both times because it had the Miller logo (Honestly I don’t remember having a textbook beyond the reading basal til HS.

  73. Andrew September 30, 2012 at 4:45 pm #

    If you want to hear a funny take on this subject, watch a Jeff Dunham Christmas Special. Towards the end, Jeff reads “The Night Before Christmas” to Peanut, who gives a hilarious rolling commentary.

  74. Andrew September 30, 2012 at 5:00 pm #

    There are many children’s book that I collect, and I always try to find first editions when I can. The Hardy Boys, Trixie Belden and The Three Investigators are all books that have heavily edited for our fragile children.These books were written at a certain time but are still relevant, maybe even more so for today. My kids read my old politically incorrect books more than the new books their teachers and aunts give them.

  75. Library Diva September 30, 2012 at 5:08 pm #

    I suspect that this is mostly a clever marketing ploy on the part of the publisher, similar to the “n-word free” Huck Finn from a few years back. She’s described as being in charge of a rather small publishing house. They porbably don’t have a large advertising budget, and if their normal activities are less than attention-grabbing, well, time to try something different and splashier. Now she’s gotten the word out and everybody knows about her.

    But in the off-chance that this is sincere, I will say something I never thought I’d say, having watched what late-1980s lung cancer treatments do to a person I loved very much and still miss: the anti-smoking movement has gone too far. I hate smoking so much. But I do believe that people have a right to smoke in their own cars and outside if they choose to do so.

    When I worked for a the community newspaper, I covered a municipality that ultimately voted to severely restrict smoking in their parks (within 90 feet of playground equipment, pools or athletic fields, which essentially banned it from most of their parks). The activist group pushing for this stated that their larger agenda was to “de-normalize” smoking. They want smokers to be decreasingly visible and increasingly isolated until no one picks up the habit.

    But in New York, there’s already virtually nowhere you can smoke. It’s been banned from all restauarants and bars for 10 years.Most universities and hospitals have smoke-free campuses, as do all public schools. I hate smoking, it’s a terrible, destructive habit, but no one will get lung cancer simply by getting the occasional whiff of smoke.

  76. CrazyCatLady September 30, 2012 at 5:55 pm #

    The problem with these changes is that they are a sideways way of censoring books. Be it this, or Huck Finn. It is censorship that slowly creeps into all of the publications till you can hardly find one with the original wording.

    When it come to censoring books I am all against it. I will defend to the end your right as a parent to decide what happens in YOUR household. But I will fight you to the death if you feel it is your job to tell MY kids in MY house what they can or cannot read.

  77. Lollipoplover September 30, 2012 at 6:10 pm #

    This week is Banned Book week. I honestly am shocked that many of my favorite books are on this list.


  78. Donna September 30, 2012 at 6:19 pm #

    Ummm Emma D., you do realize that the Bible doesn’t have a credited author, don’t you? But you are correct, the Bible has been altered so many times that we actually have no idea what the original said. It is sad that such a historic text has been bastardized – and not just in words but in entire passages – such that we have no idea if it properly reflects life in biblical times or simply watered-down versions of life during biblical times (most notably during King James’ time).

    Many modern translations give credit to both the author and translator. Even if they don’t, the books are clearly marketed as a translation. You are well aware that the book is not the author’s exact words. The book is not marketed as Clement Moore’s words when it is not Clement Moore’s words. Same with abridged classics (although those suck and should be done away with). They are clearly identified as “abridged” so you know they are not the proper text.

  79. Donna September 30, 2012 at 6:55 pm #

    And the fact that the Bible was altered many years ago is not actually a valid argument to continue to find it acceptable to modify books in 2012. There are many things that were practiced in the past that we don’t find acceptable in 2012.

  80. pentamom September 30, 2012 at 7:58 pm #

    Not to nitpick, but if anyone wants to look it up, the word is bowdlerize.

    I hope those who think this change is no problem are equally comfortable with all censorship of existing works (as opposed to creating original new versions, which anyone is free to do.) Because once you approve post-authorial censorship, you don’t really have an argument against any case of it.

    Write your own poem about Santa, but don’t mess with Moore’s work because it’s not yours.

  81. Yan Seiner September 30, 2012 at 8:13 pm #

    @Pentamom: you’re right. sloppy fingers… That name just never messes me up every time. 🙂

  82. Donna (the other one) September 30, 2012 at 8:31 pm #

    I hate the watered down versions of the classics. It is horrible trying to find the original versions. Seems like every time I go to buy my kids classic books, I have to start reading the book to make sure it’s not a watered-down, abridged “classics for young readers” version.

  83. Suzanne September 30, 2012 at 8:53 pm #

    I think it’s a little odd that most of these responses are written as if there are no parents that smoke. Kids today have aunts, uncles, grandparents and parent sthat smoke

  84. James September 30, 2012 at 10:18 pm #

    Donna, maybe they weren’t “credited” in the modern sense but nonetheless they were real people who wrote real things that have been changed and altered throughout the centuries. And we can’t pretend it doesn’t happen ALL THE TIME today in 2012. Look at all the abridged versions of classics we have. Shakespeare’s works have been rewritten so that uneducated people or children can understand better. He’s certainly not around to give his OK, but people do it anyways. I can’t think of any old classic novel that hasn’t had a watered down version made of it – many times without the author’s permission.

  85. Emma D September 30, 2012 at 10:25 pm #

    I was going to respond to your post Donna, but it seems James has already summed it up perfectly. 🙂 And I certainly never meant that we should be changing great author’s works. I am very much against it, actually. I was responding to what you said: “I’m appalled at the idea of publishing the same poem, under Clement Moore’s name, with different words than Clement Moore actually wrote.” I was simply trying to point out that it happens ALL of the time and this is not an isolated case and if we’re going to get worked up about this poem, we should be worked up about a lot of other books, as well. Or we can just take a deep breath, realize it’s reality and has been so for hundreds and hundreds of years and simply choose to read the originals.

  86. Donna September 30, 2012 at 11:40 pm #

    The true genesis of the Bible is unknown. Maybe it would be known if it had been left alone.

    But, again, that is completely irrelevant. The fact that something has been done for hundreds of years does not mean that it should be continued. At some point, we can actually say “Stop doing this. It is wrong.” We’ve done so with many things throughout history.

    The regular commenters here have fairly universally expressed distaste in ALL modifications – and many times, in many threads over the couple years I’ve been reading this blog – and not simply this isolated case. This case is being discussed right now because it is happening right now. Lenore, being more of a current events kinda gal, doesn’t spend much time waxing poetic over things that really can’t be changed, such as modifications made to the Bible when translated into English in 1611.

    And, again, “abridged” versions of literature are marked as “abridged.” Children’s Bibles are sold as Children’s Bibles. There is no possibility of confusing them for the original works. They are not being sold as the original works of whomever any more than a print of the Mona Lisa bought in the Louvre gift store is purported to be the original painting. That is simply not the same as the work of Clement Moore (which – although you’ve think this is self-evident from the comments and not needed to be stated specifically – is just the most recent example and the one being discussed today because it is happening right now but should in no way be construed as a belief that this is the only time that this has occurred) being altered and then still sold as the original work of Clement Moore.

  87. Donald October 1, 2012 at 12:57 am #

    I don’t know what’s funnier. whether it’s changing the poem or the some of the arguments.

    I still think that the main job for parents is to teach children how to assess right from wrong. Character building is another one so that they can ACT on what’s right.

    Changing the poem is only another form of bubble wrapping children.

    It will effect kids in an incredibly small way by changing the poem. To some, they will be less likely to smoke if they don’t read about smoking. To others, they will be more likely to smoke because of the bubble wrap mentality that hinders kids from learning right from wrong, and developing the character to act upon what’s right..

  88. Jenna October 1, 2012 at 1:03 am #

    Truthfully, I never liked that line as a child. It always bothered me because I knew smoking was bad. However, was I influenced by it? Not in the slightest. I knew smoking was bad, so it was just one of those things–the person who wrote that poem back in the day decided Santa smoked a pipe. In my mind as a child, Santa didn’t. So it didn’t bother me. It just fit nicely into the poem. And as far as that goes, I really disagree with changing previously published, copyrighted material to suit a public’s changing views. This is along the lines of changing the characters’ names in Enid Blyton books. the author has passed on and their work should remain unchanged and untarnished.

  89. Emma D October 1, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

    If being “clearly marked” is all that is needed, then I guess we have nothing to be upset about, Donna. 🙂


    This link takes you to the “new version” we are all arguing about and it is CLEARLY marked as a new version in the title itself. “Twas The Night Before Christmas: Edited by Santa Claus for the Benefit of Children of the 21st Century” So we have no possibility of confusing it for the original work. 🙂

  90. Becky October 1, 2012 at 2:12 pm #

    Donna and James, the various revisions of the Bible that have been made over the years are a primary example of why it is so important to keep original texts as pristine as possible. Why? Because some people actually base their lives, their children’s lives and their entire world view on those texts. Personally, I don’t care if Mary was a virgin or a mistranslated ‘young girl’, but it matters to my Catholic grandma. I don’t personally care if Jesus was the actual son of God, or a metaphorical son of his creator (just as we all are children of such creator). But it matters a heck of a lot to some other people. Do I care if Santa smokes? No. But I recognize how the smoking brings the poem back to the time period in which it was conceived. A time period when men and women wore headcoverings to bed (because there was no central heating). When kids looked forward to sugarplums as a special treat. And when most adult men of any substance smoked pipes. When you lose that aspect of the poem you lose a bit of its context. As others have pointed out Santa does a bunch of things in that poem that we wouldn’t want our kids doing today. He’s fat. He indiscriminately wears fur. He practices breaking and entering, not to mention the inevitable roof damage. He enslaves and whips reindeer. He gets dirty (from sliding down chimneys no less!). However, when Clement Clarke Moore wrote the story to cheer up his sick daughter, he was making a story for the time period in which he and she were familiar (except for the reindeer, which are very rarely domesticated). It is not just a tale to amuse children, it is a piece of history in the same way that Shakespeare is. Change the poem, and you change history…or at least our children’s perception of history which, in just a few short decades, will be the same thing.

  91. stacy October 1, 2012 at 2:55 pm #

    After seeing the link to the book that Emma D provided, I don’t think we can be upset about the author’s words being changed and sold under his name since it is clear that this is an edited version right in the title. And since it is clearly marked it seems we parents can make the choice to get the original or the “edited by Santa” version. So I guess I don’t see the problem. Yeah, it makes you roll your eyes that parents think a picture of Santa with a pipe will turn their kids into smokers, but if they choose to buy the new version, that’s their choice and as long as it doesn’t interfere with my choice to share the original then I say each to his own.

  92. Aimee October 1, 2012 at 3:56 pm #

    My grandfather smoked – one smoked cigars, the other a pipe – nothing about that made me want to smoke. But the smell of cigar or pipe smoke always make me think of them.

    I’m glad someone else here brought up Gandalf. When he’s mulling something over, or taking a break from orcs, he likes to smoke his pipe. Considering he can regenerate himself from a gray to white wizard, I suspect his lungs are cancer-free.

    Sherlock Holmes smokes a pipe. I like him too.

    BTW, does anyone notice that Santa’s “cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry”? It might be coming in from the cold, but personally, I think he’s been into the eggnog. A lot.

  93. Warren October 1, 2012 at 4:18 pm #

    Better yet, if paranoid parents want a sterilized poem or story for their delicate babies, then write and original one themself.
    Why must people think they have the right to change other’s works, just because they don’t like it. Stacy you say we have a choice, well so do the ones that do not like it. Don’t buy it, and don’t read it. But they should not be able to change it.
    Part of a strong community is tradition and respect. We are sanitizing, sterilizing and politically correcting traditions. After how much of this activity does a tradition no longer count as a tradition?

  94. Beth October 1, 2012 at 5:35 pm #

    “Edited by Santa”? Good grief. Because it’s so much better to put a bald-faced lie on the front of the book than for a kid to notice that Santa smoked a pipe.

    And yes, I get that the whole Santa thing could be considered a lie; but to me, it’s a fantasy story. And the fact that Santa is an editor is no part of that story, or the reality of the fantasy, at all.

  95. Sarah October 1, 2012 at 7:16 pm #

    My great grandpa smoked a pipe every day and died of lung cancer- at 96.

  96. Brian October 1, 2012 at 8:13 pm #

    When I sing Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Boxer” to my 3-year-old daughter sometimes at bedtime I change the word “whores” to “girls”. I’m happy with my decision. I don’t buy at all that works are inviolable at the level of private consumption (governmental censorship is another matter).

    I think my daughter is old enough for Santa smoking to be a teachable moment though.

  97. Warren October 1, 2012 at 10:05 pm #

    Would you agree though there is a difference between editing while you sing or read whatever to your child, and publishing a censored version?

  98. AB October 1, 2012 at 11:14 pm #

    I had a good laugh ( and cry) recently when going through some old children’s books of mine of how un-PC many of them might be these days. One of them deals with the death of a boy’s great grandmother and grandmother ( and here I lost my grandmother a month ago and was in tears reading it). In another book, toys are abducted by a scary looking dragon in an amusement park. In another one all a kid and his family did was make and eat pies ( OMG! THAT BOOK PROMOTES OBESITY! some people would say).

    My mother and I had the biggest laugh about the book that stated that T-Rex “liked” eating meat, while brontosaurus “liked” eating plants as we always wondered if there were vegetarian T-Rexes out there as “liked” is used to mean “preference”.

  99. DJD October 1, 2012 at 11:34 pm #

    To all you naysayers, I’ll have you know that as a former smoker I am appalled at your attitudes. I remember laying away at nights during Christmas traumatised after I was read that book. In addition, my dentist then said my first cavity was caused by references to sugar plum cookies.

  100. Brian October 1, 2012 at 11:35 pm #

    I agree there is certainly a difference, though I still view commercial editing as better than governmental censorship.

    I was responding largely to assertions that seem to go beyond scoffing at this new version of the poem to say that parents like me are doing something wrong. For example, claiming leaving a sentence out of a books is immoral and dishonest: “So instead of actually reading the original version of the poem to your daughter, you sanitize it to protect her from the evils of smoking. “but she is learning to read, and she’s going to catch me eventually”. Nice lesson mom. Don’t smoke, but it okay to lie.” I think it’s appropriate for me to choose the age at which to introduce certain complicated topics and avoid them out beforehand.

    Also I was struck by this statement: “These people who feel they have the right to alter, change, or sanitize other’s works, would be outraged if someone did it to their work. And if they were not outraged, then they have no pride or integrity.” I find that to be a overreaching assertion, particularly in my case since Paul Simon was less than outraged by parental alterations to his song (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Boxer), and I don’t believe he is totally lacking in pride and integrity.

    If I misinterpreted your statements, then my apologies.

  101. Warren October 2, 2012 at 12:17 pm #


    I cannot speak to Paul Simon’s pride or integrity, I do not know the man.

    I can only speak for myself. When it comes to creativity, it is a personal thing. And if I create a work of art, or Paul Simon creates one, or anyone else creates one, there are two choices for the people looking at it, listening to it or reading it…………if you like it, great enjoy it. If you don’t like it, don’t enjoy it. No one is forcing you to look at it, listen to it, or read it.
    It is arrogant to believe that you have the right to change another’s work.
    It just goes to prove one of the hazzard’s of the overprotective helicoptering parenting, that has been going on. Lack of creativity. Cannot come up with an original work of their own, so let’s just remake an original.

  102. NicoleK October 2, 2012 at 5:16 pm #

    I feel like pipes are so old-fashioned that a kid wouldn’t associate them with smoking cigarettes.

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  104. Bee October 10, 2012 at 1:35 am #

    Good Lord… Seriously. It;s Santa, the guy needs a smoke once in awhile after having to keep his peepers peeled watching kids 365 days a year, but I digress. I picture of a fellow with a pipe? I doubt kids will take up smoking due to a story you read once a year focused on GIFTS. They may take up a habit of whining about wanting more gifts…
    Thinking of other places my two y/o and I see smoking depicted – a Variety of Vintage Golden Books and Golden Book repros. There is one called “Daddies” which talks about manly jobs and shows them smoking both a cigarette and a pipe. My son is a lot more excited to talk and ask about the jobs depicted (like train engineer & Airplane Pilot). Also, just picked up two different versions of Hansel & Gretel…. In one we have a more modern ‘nice’ version were they just push the witch in a well and she gets wet. Hmmmm… Then I have an original in which they shove her in a hot burning oven. Huh. The later made a lot more sense to my 2 y/o as he knows ovens are hot, can burn you, and this would be very bad. Getting wet, not so much. Ah well, censorship.

  105. madworld October 16, 2012 at 1:17 pm #

    Dear Pamela McColl,

    What kind of A**hole alters a poem that is almost 200 years old? The same one that likely supports breast-feeding 10-year-olds and shoving their f’ed up opinions about EVERYTHING down EVERYONE’S throats – that’s who.
    Here’s a crazy thought, and by crazy I mean CRAZY – you politically correct ASS; “DON’T READ THAT BOOK TO YOUR KID IF YOU’RE SO OFFENDED BY IT!” Besides, since the story IS, afterall, based on a complete LIE, shouldn’t you be reading them a vegetarian cookbook or something? No harm there.
    Censorship is a blatant violation of fundamental rights of expression. Where does it end? And who the HELL are you or anyone else to dictate to anyone? You probably condone Tipper Gore and her plight to exterminate potty-mouth rap lyrics too. Guess what – I HATE RAP so here’s what I do – I DON”T LISTEN TO IT!
    What a point of pride – to be able to tell your kid you’re the moron who censored a 200 year old, beloved, children’s Christmas tradition…..when your kid is 20 and still believes in Santa.
    The amount of funds you wasted on this could have fed a lot of starving children – although, types like you are more likely to save animals than people.
    Surely, your rebuttal to me would be full of BS about what a mean, ignorant person I am for leaving such a scathing post with details about all the good you do in the world. Spare me. Your opinion means no more to me than mine will ever mean to you – Besides, your self-righteous mindset will be your own undoing.
    I, along with the majority, will continue to support freedom of speech while you go on hugging trees, burning bras and saving whales.

  106. jimpeel October 16, 2012 at 3:49 pm #

    “Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”
    — C.S. Lewis

  107. JP November 10, 2012 at 6:30 am #

    In current times the number of kids with respiratory ailments has risen exponentially. This has nothing to do whatsoever, with smoking. Kids are not exposed to cigarette smoke the way we adults were.
    But they are exposed to a lot of other things in their environment.
    And I wish to high heaven people would start getting even just a little bit as upset about that, as they do about smoking.
    (Could it be perhaps, that this problem is just a little bit more pervasive, a little bit more overwhelming?)

    After all, it comes out of every single tailpipe that shows up to taxi a kid from points A to B, every day of their life. But unfortunately, we can’t ban it the way we do cigarettes, or pipes, or cigars.
    So they become riddled to death by our mobility needs. Shame on us for ignoring that, and worrying ourselves to distraction over a Victorian poem.

    As Scrooge was heard to mutter – “I’ll retire to bedlam!”
    Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good night…

  108. Warren November 12, 2012 at 7:07 am #

    You would think this lady would at least give Santa credit for using a GREEN form of transportation.

  109. Reynldo January 19, 2013 at 1:20 pm #

    You know, the compulsive need to protect children from everything is the reason why children have so many allergies nowadays and such poor immune systems. People are always calling old stories “backwards” or “politically incorrect”. When I was a kid, I understood that things were different back then and never questioned it. I don’t believe that a woman’s place is at the sewing machine because I read “Good Night Little Bear” or that I should try drugs because of “Green Eggs And Ham”, and I never did. All I can infer is that the author of this article is a vindictive, angry, and unfulfilled ***** who is just upset because there’s something in life that is out of her control. This article is her opinion, and this statement is mine.


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  111. Suzanne June 15, 2013 at 8:28 am #

    Just crazy. We just explain to the kids that this was written before the effects of tobacco were known. Duh.


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