Santa Claus remains Christmas fixture for nation

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 20, 2005

In today's Lifestyles' edition of the Greenville Advocate, you will find a front-page piece written by Angie Long about Santa Claus. Well, Santa Claus as portrayed by two of Greenville's own in Allen Stephenson and Ricky Cargile.

You'll also find our annual 10-page Season's Greetings section from all of our advertisers, which also features a hundred or so letters to Santa, written by the school children of Butler County. The letters come from a variety of age groups and while we regret that all could not be included in these pages, rest assured that all were definitely forwarded to the North Pole for consideration by the jolly man in red.

Since an advertising artist with Coca-Cola named Hubert Sundblom first depicted a modern incarnation of St. Nick in the 1930s, Santa Claus has become a permanent part of American culture. Come Christmas, Santa clones take to the streets in support of philanthropies such as the Salvation Army and numerous other charitable associations dedicated to making the holiday season as pleasurable as can be for the poor or needy. And for children there is nothing more exciting than a visit to Santa Claus. Whether at the mall, church or school, millions of children annually climb onto Santa's knee, eager to have their requests for Christmas morning heard.

Among Christians, there is the debate that Santa Claus represents everything wrong about Christmas. Some Christians argue that Santa Claus and the commercialization he represents take away from the true reason for the season, that being the birth of Jesus Christ.

But Stephenson, who also pastors two churches in Butler County, believes there's a place for Santa in what is sometimes &#8220a cold and uncaring world.”

&#8220Santa speaks of generosity and unconditional love,” he said. &#8220And those are things the world needs more of.”