On this St. Nicholas Day I unabashedly proclaim I believe in Santa Claus. Like the editorial in the New York Sun stated in Sept. 21, 1897, “He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist…”.
As a child and brought up as a Baptist (I still am) I was not exposed much at all to the “Saints” other than in the sense of the biblical agreement that all believers are saints. Of course there were some exceptions to that in the cases of Valentine and Patrick, but neither had the special place in our home and lives as Nicholas (in the guise as Santa) did. My earliest favorite depiction (among many favorites) of St. Nicholas was, like so many kids in the early 1960s, the Coca-Cola Santa (on the right in this group of three) illustrated by Haddon Sundblom. Of course I, at that time, had never heard of Sunblom but as children we appreciate the illustration not the illustrator. Later I appreciated the work of political cartoonist Thomas Nast and his portrayals of St. Nicholas in the 1880s which were undoubtedly inspired by the poem from 1823, “A Visit from St. Nicholas” (more commonly known as “The Night Before Christmas”) by Clement Clarke Moore. As an adult artist when I became interested in the art of Orthodox Christianity icons, various depictions of Nicholas, like this one from the 13th century, became those to which I was attracted. As yet, I’ve not “written” (as icon production is called) one of St. Nicholas, but I intend to someday.
Finally, on this day dedicated to St. Nicholas, I would encourage everyone to take some time and ponder the place that saint had and has in all of our lives. Read about the life and good deeds of that early Christian bishop of Greek descent from Myra in Asia Minor, and how his life has inspired what is real joy seen in the eyes and children of all ages every December. Then understand that all the generosity and love that was the personality of Nicholas was only because of his love and devotion to the teachings and examples Jesus of Bethlehem.
Have a wonderful Christmas Season.
~ John Essex II is a retired art teacher, a two-time Lilly Teacher Creativity Fellow and an Arts Council of Indianapolis Creative Renewal Arts Fellow. He is also artist/owner of EssexArt ABC, LLC through which he keeps busy creating his own fine art, creates commissioned art, does caricaturing by commission and at special events, conducts private painting parties and is contacted regularly to play the bagpipes (yes… play the bagpipes). Essex also maintains two online print-on-demand stores where patrons can acquire gallery quality prints of his art as well as other products that feature his work. To view what Essex does, and/or to shop his online stores, go to:
To keep up with Essex and what he does at EssexArt ABC, LLC, follow him on:
Facebook at, https://www.facebook.com/EssexArt,
Instagram at, https://www.instagram.com/essexart_abc (@EssexArt_ABC)
Essex is also listed in the Arts Council of Indianapolis artist directory at: