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I notice that people all around are beginning to decorate for Christmas and Santa Claus has already made a brief stop in Pea Ridge.

Santa Claus gets around a lot more these days than he did when I was a young boy in the 1940s. When I was young, the only time we saw Santa Claus was at the end of our church Christmas program. Santa always came at that time to hand out candy to us kids after we had sung our songs and said our Christmas speeches.

Our Sunday School classes usually sang Christmas songs, and we young kids had short Christmas poems to memorize and say. We called them our "speeches." Usually our Christmas program in those early days was held on Christmas Eve, and I assume that Santa was already on his way across the world with his reindeer and sleigh, delivering gifts to young and old; so he would just make a brief stop at the end of our program. Those were World War II days, and there wasn't a lot of candy in our households. Santa brought each of us a small brown bag of hard candy, along with an orange. Oranges, too, were rare during those times. Santa was fun after our Christmas program, and I used to think he sounded a lot like Luther Martin, our grocery store man.

I sometimes hear people lamenting that Christmas celebrations these days are too much about Santa and not enough about the birth of Jesus. They used to say that in the 1940s, too, so that part hasn't changed much.

But Santa didn't get around to so many stores back then. We used to hear that he would visit the big stores in New York and ask the kids what they wanted for Christmas, but we never saw Santa in our stores in Pea Ridge. These days, Santa may be on TV selling stuff, or you may see him in stores. He really gets around. I'm thinking how does he have time to make the toys at the North Pole or take care of his reindeer team or get his sleigh ready for the trip across the world? I really wish he would stay at the North Pole until Christmas Eve instead of working in advertising for all these stores.

The sentiment that Christmas gets too commercial and too secular is not a new concern. It has been around throughout my lifetime. We seem to make progress, then fall back, and make progress and fall back. Some things you can fix and they stay fixed. Christmas, on the other hand, has to be intentionally restored every year.

It seems we can hardly wait for Christmas to begin, the buying of stuff for Christmas, that is.

The ideal Christmas, it seems, according to our advertising world, is to find just the right gifts to thrill everyone on our list, and for us to get it all at a bargain. If we don't get a great deal, then it's a downer. We have to hurry to get those great deals, because if we don't get there early then others will beat us to the deals. We have to buy like crazy or the great deals will soon be gone and we'll have to pay full price, and that obviously is no fun. One of the things that bothers me about all this, is that Santa is often pushed into encouraging it. He is even presented as thinking about buying his gifts at the store and getting great deals instead of letting his elves build the dolls and toys for all the little children in the world.

I'm also thinking, Santa started out as Saint Nickolaus, who wanted to show kindness and caring to the children at Christmastime because he was inspired by the birth of the Christ Child. He was of the church, a devout Christian, and he understood that the Christmas festival is a celebration of Christ and His salvation.

The best thing about Christmas is Jesus, born in a stable in Bethlehem, born to save, born that genuine life may be restored to humanity, and that all who will may have life and have it abundantly. When the world tries to celebrate Christmas without the Christ, there really is no celebration. When you empty Christmas of its heart, what's left is a truly empty shell; and an empty shell can't be made full and happy by stuff and parties and hilarity.

I'm glad to have Santa coming to town, but I wish we could get him out of the advertising business and into things like Angel Tree programs.

The Christ of Saint Nickolaus once taught, "It is more blessed to give than to receive."

Saint Nickolaus knew that, taught that, practiced that. Does today's Santa Claus know that?

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Editor's note: Jerry Nichols, a native of Pea Ridge and an award-winning columnist, is vice president of Pea Ridge Historical Society. He can be contacted by e-mail at joe369@centurytel.net, or call 621-1621.

Editorial on 12/05/2018

Print Headline: Santa Claus is coming to town

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