You are probably familiar with the poem attributed to Clement Clarke Moore that begins “Twas the night before Christmas”. We have at least two copies of it in book-form in our house (with James Marshall and Corinne Malvern as illustrators), and it’s a book that Harriet has been frequently asking to have read recently.
It’s justly well-known, as it, as much as any other source, is responsible for the modern-day conception of Santa Claus / Father Christmas / St Nicholas. According to Wikipedia’s pages on Moore’s poem and Santa, the 1823 poem (called “A Visit from St Nicholas”) can be credited with establishing:
- Santa’s physical attributes,
- arriving on Christmas Eve,
- traveling via a reindeer-drawn sleigh,
- the names of the reindeer,
- entering via the chimney, and
- bringing toys to children!
So, after the n-th reading of it, I was surprised to realise that there was something I’d missed. Although all the illustrations that accompanied the poem depicted St Nick as normal human-size (as well as every illustration I’ve ever seen of Santa), the poem clearly casts him as a midget. Not only is Father Christmas pint-sized, but so are all of the reindeer.
Here are the relevant lines from the poem:
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny rein-deer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
And then in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof
He had a broad face, and a little round belly
That shook when he laugh’d, like a bowl full of jelly:
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf
Yes, that’s right – Santa is a tiny elf who travels in a miniature sleigh. Hence why the reindeer can land on the roof of a house and why he can fit down a chimney (although, some physicists have speculated at other ways Santa might fit down a chimney).
The part of the Santa Claus cultural tradition that states that he is a large, portly man comes not from Moore’s poem, but from elsewhere, e.g. soft-drink advertising campaigns, or Thomas Nast’s illustrations. It is the combination of this large Santa with Moore’s slim-chimney-fitting Santa that has created a problem, i.e. that we need to explain how Father Christmas gets down the chimney.
So, now every time I read the story for Harriet, I’m going to have dissonance in my head between the words and the pictures, and will dread answering how Santa gets into the house in a way that gels with the poem as well as the more “normal” view of him. Although it was very influential, it’s a pity that the poem wasn’t also influential in the matter of St Nick’s size.
One last way that the poem has been influential is in the number of alternative re-tellings that it has generated. There is a good collection of them here. I like the one about assembling presents – this is also something (given two children under three) that I dread will happen.
Tags: christmas, clement c moore, elf, father christmas, miniature, myth, physics, poem, santa claus, size, small, st nicholas
Whether you call them skateboards, buggy boards or stroller boards, they sound like a good option for extending the use of a stroller. You attach a wheeled board to the back of the stroller, and the older child can stand on it while the baby rides in the stroller proper. Certainly, it’s cheaper than replacing a single stroller with a double stroller.
Since we had our second child, three weeks ago now, we needed to do something to allow both kids to be transported by a single adult. Although being on leave at the moment, it’s not yet a big deal, but since that’ll end soon, we thought we’d give a skateboard a try.
We have a 3-wheeler stroller (Swallow Beema Q model) which we are very happy with, and used a lot during our first child’s early months for walks around the neighborhood and at the shops. The sales assistant at the baby store recommended the Lascal BuggyBoard Maxi as a skateboard that would fit our stroller. But now that we have fitted it and put it into use, I don’t think I’d recommend it at all.
For others that are looking to fit a buggy board to your Beema Q, I think you’ll be disappointed, based on our experiences. You can see some of the issues in the above photos, but I’ll summarise the pros and cons here. I hope this helps others who are considering this option.
- Older child can be carried short distances on the stroller without needing to be picked up, enabling one adult to undertake short trips with two children.
- Fits securely and can be clipped in and out with ease.
- Can handle bumpy footpaths.
- Brake is obstructed, preventing use while older child is on board, and otherwise requires operation by hand rather than usual operation by foot.
- Older child can step off at any time, and needs to be watched (which is certainly not unique to this particular skateboard).
- When older child steps off, their weight is temporarily held by the top-back of the stroller (where they would hang on), causing the front wheel to lift.
- There isn’t really enough space to accommodate the height of the child on the skateboard. Luckily ours is not tall, so it will serve us for a few months, but others may need to consider this.
So, while we may occasionally use it, I think putting the younger child in a baby carrier (such as an Ergo or BabyBjorn) with the older one in an umbrella stroller will be the more typical arrangement.
Tags: beema q, buggy board, buggyboard maxi, children, lascal, problems, skateboard, stroller, stroller board, swallow, transport
Although it’s complete coincidence that Movember ended a couple of days back, I wanted to give a quick update on razor blades. I previously wrote about how the razors in supermarkets were very expensive, but I now have some good news.
The major supermarket chains (Coles, Woolworths) may have stopped stocking the older and cheaper razor blade systems, but the discount chains still have them. Today I bought a Schick Ultra razor for $5 from The Reject Shop. Please excuse the quality of the photo – it was taken with my phone camera.
Tags: blades, cheap, discount, razor, schick, ultra, ultra plus