Friday, December 22, 2006

Reader's Diary #208: Clement Moore*: The Night Before Christmas


The Night Before Christmas, or A Visit From St. Nicholas as it was originally titled, is, according to Wikipedia, "largely responsible for the contemporary American conception of Santa Claus, including his appearance". False. In fact, if anything, we have gone out of our way to ignore Moore's rather remarkable declaration that Santa Claus was a little person, perhaps even a "jolly old elf".
Surely the Santa who we know, the bearded guy that buys an extra large red and white suit at a Big and Tall store and offers up his lap to children at the local mall, is not the same Santa that Moore wrote about driving a "miniature sleigh" pulled by "eight tiny reindeer". Yes, he was described as "old" but "little" as well, remember? I doubt the little hooves of Moore's reindeer could have pulled Tim Allen's behemoth version either. His "droll little mouth", his "little round belly"? My friends, for a moore accurate version of St. Nicholas, look to the Travelocity gnome, not to the Coca-Cola guzzling giant.
*Incidentally, Moore may not be the actual author of this beloved Christmas classic. It may have been Major Henry Livingston. The evidence cited by Wikipedia certainly presents a more favourable case for the latter.

6 comments:

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I rather like the idea of Santa looking like the Travelocity gnome! That big old Coke Santa is bland and boring.

The old world Saint Nicholas is a bit stern and scary looking, but I rather prefer him too.

John Mutford said...

I'm surprised Travelocity hasn't capitalized on it actually- Santa travels the world, right?

Barbara Bruederlin said...

It's been proven that he does. On Quirks and Quarks today, an engineering prof even gave the theorems that allowed for him to do all his deliveries in one evening.

John Mutford said...

The original FedEx guy too, nonetheless!

John Mutford said...

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Merry Christmas to you and you family, John!