In case you haven’t heard, Santa is now a nonsmoker. He did it without even using a patch.
Actually, he didn’t do it; anti-smoking crusader Pamela McColl did it for him. She took it upon herself to edit the beloved 200-year-old poem, “T’was the Night Before Christmas,” removing the line (and accompanying illustration) about Santa drawing on a pipe and smoke encircling his face like a wreath.
McColl, a former smoker, is concerned that children will be encouraged to smoke by visualizing Santa with a pipe.
Who hasn’t read the “Night Before Christmas” to small children, only to watch in horror as they race from the room, grab crayons and begin adding cigarettes, pipes and cigars to their Christmas lists?
The first question about the decision to remove Santa’s pipe is this: Do we know for a fact that he actually inhaled? Secondly, if someone is going to modernize Santa, why stop with the tobacco?
Consider that Santa wraps himself in fur from head to foot. Why not dress Santa in a polyester red leisure suit? Of course, that’s if you can find one to fit. Santa is a man with a broad face and a “round little belly that shakes when he laughs like a bowl full of jelly.” The man is heavy. Rotund. Dare we say obese?
The narrative refers to Santa as “chubby and plump — a right jolly old elf.” Enough with the stereotypes about fat people being jolly.
Let’s quit pretending. The man is depressed. That’s why he eats. He’s isolated and lonely, closes himself off from the rest of the world all but one day a year and stuffs himself with dairy and carbs.
It also bears noting that Santa has a nose like a cherry. Can you say drinking problem? Probably throwing a few back before boarding the sleigh — which also means he quite likely is sleighing under the influence.
And let us consider Mrs. Claus. The woman is a virtual prisoner in her own home. How do we know he treats her well? Does she have cable? A cellphone? Reliable Internet? Health care? Birth control? Paid vacation?
Furthermore, we cannot overlook the recurring animal abuse. Nine free-range reindeer strapped into harnesses. They work long hours and cross multiple time zones with no down time.
Given the highly sensitive times in which we live, it is hard to believe Santa is someone we have encouraged children to invite into our homes, so meet the new and improved Santa.
Small children make him jumpy. He’s a little on the nervous side, but tobacco withdrawal does that to a body.
He’s considerably thinner. That 1,200-calories-a-day diet has paid off. He traded milk and cookies for carrot sticks and hummus.
It didn’t hurt that he set the reindeer free in Yellowstone and walks his deliveries now. It takes longer, but if he starts when the store displays go up in September, he can be home by June.
Santa is a new man. A modern man.
Surprisingly, he still has a pipe. But not to worry; he only uses it for medical marijuana.
Lori Borgman is an Indianapolis columnist.