Be warned--the politically correct police have run out of everyday faux pas to pursue and are now coming after Santa Claus.
A child advocate named Pamela McColl has decided that the classic holiday rhyme "'Twas The Night Before Christmas" needs to be revised because Santa is a smoker. She has published a new version that has removed the lines, "The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, and the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath".
McColl's reasoning is that 25 percent of long-term smokers first pick up the habit before age 10, and that having a beloved children's character smoking in the middle of the living room is a bad influence.
I must have read this tale a hundred times over the years, and I never once thought of Santa as a smoker. It is all part of his "jolly old elf" persona. I would imagine the reference to smoking goes over the head of 90 percent of us, but McColl is apparently convinced it will result in millions of children writing to Santa for a pipe and tobacco in their stockings.
What's next? We will be deleting the references to Santa going up and down the chimney because it is technically breaking and entering?
What about the line about his protruding stomach? Will that also be changed because it appears unhealthy? A Santa with washboard abs is just wrong. And what about the reference to his stomach as "a bowl full of jelly"? Somehow the line "shook as he laughed like a bowl full of tofu" doesn't have the same ring.
If we are going to p.c. Christmas, let's just take it all the way and do away with the term "elves." Couldn't this be considered derogatory? Perhaps it would be more correct to refer to them as "vertically challenged production and shipping coordinators."
I agree that there are certain terms and expressions that should not be part of polite society. However, in an effort not to offend anyone or make sure children are only exposed to healthy images, we are taking things a bit too far.
There have always been and will always be smokers, overweight people and other characteristics we deem less than ideal in this world. Perhaps these are not the best lifestyles or attitudes to pursue, but it allows children to understand that everyone has attributes and qualities that make them unique. And just as those around them can reflect good examples, it is not a bad idea that they are exposed to behaviors NOT to imitate. It does not take much to make them understand that smoking is what causes Grandpa to have yellow teeth, a bad cough and smell like an ashtray.
There are some icons in the world with which you simply do not mess, and Santa is one of them. So I will take my Santa chubby with pipe smoke circling around his head, thank you very much.
And if anyone suggests he should not wear red because it represents gang colors, may they be strung up with garland in a pear tree occupied by a partridge, three french hens and four calling birds with full stomachs.