A few posts ago I zeroed in on a book cover from the fifties showing Santa Claus smoking tobacco from a hookah. Pretty unusual, right? Nothing like what you’d see Santa doing in a kids’ book nowadays. Well, not so long ago I illustrated A Soldiers’ Night Before Christmas by Trish Holland and Christine Ford (both military moms), in which an army base in the MidEast is paid a visit on Christmas eve. Instead of Santa Claus, it’s grizzled old Sargent McClaus who swoops in on his flying jeep, accompanied by eight humvees and a red-nosed Blackhawk helicopter.
Clenched between the sargent’s teeth is a cigar!
The story calls for a cigar, so Sargent McClaus’ head can be wreathed in smoke just like Saint Nicholas. He brings the troops duffel bags full of goodies: letters from home, photos, phone cards, and crayon drawings. The story is set to (what else?) Clement C. Moore’s poem. As for how the army base is decorated for the season, I got lots of inside info from Trish and Christine.
Spare a thought (and a prayer) for our gallant troops who will be far from home on Christmas. God bless them.