In defense of a (grayish) white Christmas

One of my fondest childhood memories is the ride to Grandma’s house on Christmas Eve. All of us bundled up inside the Monte Carlo, music crackling over the AM station, my mother and stepfather smoking like chimneys. I can still feel the sting in my throat, the sensation of slow asphyxiation, the desperate involuntary eye watering.

Sometimes me or one of my brothers would crack the back window just a tad, and then stretch up to the opening and suck in a breath of cold precious air. “Shut that window, it’s cold,” one or the other parent would say. It was always hard to make out who, ringed as they were in thick smoke, their voices obscured by the ringing in our little heads. Up would go the window, sealing us once again in our dark smoky tomb. Good times.

And now I read that the Tennessee Medical Association wants to make it a crime for people to smoke in vehicles they are sharing with children. It’s just the latest assault on another family tradition. Next thing you know, they’ll issue warnings advising against cooking a whole ham and then letting it sit on the stove all day long so everybody in Grandma’s house can snack at will. Sure, we all felt a little green by the end of the day, but who’s to say that wasn’t the concentrated secondhand smoke?

Mark my words — if we let them take away our God-given right to pickle small children in a nicotine haze, they won’t stop there. Don’t come crying to me if somebody eventually questions whether it’s wise to let children watch fourteen uninterrupted hours of television, or if tossing a baby into the air repeatedly until he throws up is harmful for his development.



  1. Tall Texan

    As a boy both my parents smoked (and they each died of smoking related illnesses) and I also endured traveling with duel smoke stacks. I still vividly recall getting violently car sick after hours of a smokey road trip. I also recall riding in the front seat between them (pre-seat belt laws or even pre-seat belts, period) and my dad had gotten run off the road by a reckless driver. The ash tray in front of me disgorged its contents all over my legs, hot embers and all.

  2. Donna B.

    My Dad was a smoker, but not my Mom. I remember him always cracking his own window when he lit one up, which I don’t remember being all that often.

    If smoking had made nauseous, Dad would never have smoked with me in the car. He was always trying to do things that kept me from getting carsick, as I usually would lean over the front seat to tell him I didn’t feel so good and, well… you know what happened.

    Mom was never real happy no matter who I threw up on, as she had to do all the cleaning up. By the time he got the car pulled over, he was throwing up too.

    They eventually bought a station-wagon that had a third fold-down seat in the back. Guess where I got to sit.

  3. RockThrowingPeasant

    I’m going to dissent, for a couple reasons. First, it really is not the government’s business. It’s just not. Next, junk science (which the “secondhand smoke” threat is) is still junk science, even if I agree with the follow on policies.

    I hate smoking. My dad smoked my whole life and continues to do so. Almost my whole family smokes. Drives me nuts. I don’t like visiting because my family (wife and boys) leaves smelling like cigarettes. I don’t like going to bars because it means I sleep on the couch – not because I was out with the guys, but because I reek of cigarettes when I stumble home.

    But it’s not the government’s business and it’s dangerous to let the government in just because you support the intrusion this time.

    I don’t want to become a parent that runs behind little Johnny with a pillow, lest little Johnny stumble and fall.

  4. David Andersen

    RTP – is it also dangerous to let the government intrude on parents who are harming their children in other ways? Where do you draw the line? At what point are we abdicating our responsibilities as human beings when we let the defenseless come to harm?

  5. RockThrowingPeasant

    If the pain/discomfort lasts more than ten minutes.

    If a kid gets out of a car and recovers in ten minutes, no harm, no foul. If you whack a kid and the pain lasts more than ten minutes, you got a problem. As a rule, I don’t whack my boys, but that’s because they do enough of that to each other that their pain threashold is too high for anything I have the stomach to administer.

    I’m not saying the government doesn’t have a role in protecting against child abuse, but the more you empower a government, the more it will look to encroach on other areas – all in the name of “for your own good.”

    Little Johnny’s coughing. Pass a law!

    C’mon. How much of a stretch will it be before, “Little Johnny’s 20 lbs overwieght and eating a Ho-ho. Pass a law!”

    You’ll always get a bunch of folks who will wrap themselves in Sesame Street blankies and cry for “the children.” And those folks will vote lockstep for the nanny state. It’s up to people with normal expectations of life to say, “No. You’re not getting this one.”

    Coincidentily, I use a similar measure for defining torture. If you can recover after 30 minutes, it ain’t torture. Bamboo under the nails? That’s lasting longer than a half hour. Waterboarding? The coughing ends after a few minutes and you’re back to cursing the US with a full breath before you know it.

  6. Debbie

    AND……….If you were green when you left, it was because you ate yourself sick!
    Not because the ham was bad.

  7. Pingback: Hit Coffee » Quote of the Day: The Nanny State

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