Thursday, December 24, 2009

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas Eve and a magical Christmas morning. And I hope Santa fills your stockings with love and happiness. I thought I would wind down the holiday season with the most famous piece ever written about Santa Claus. No, this girl is not named Virginia. I chose her because she is so cute and quite a believer in Santa, just as I am.

"DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
"Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
"Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.'
"Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?


"VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood."

From Wikipedia: Francis Pharcellus Church wrote the unsigned editorial. Church had been a war correspondent during the American Civil War. Although the paper ran the editorial in the seventh place on the editorial page, below even an editorial on the newly invented "chainless bicycle," its message was very moving to many people who read it. More than a century later it remains the most reprinted editorial ever to run in any newspaper in the English language.

Virginia O’Hanlon, who eventually became an educator, received a steady stream of mail about her letter throughout her life. She would include a copy of the editorial in her replies. In an interview later in life, she credited the editorial with shaping the direction of her life quite positively.

Virginia died on May 13, 1971 in a nursing home in Valatie, New York. She is buried at the Chatham Rural Cemetery in Chatham, New York. But her spirit and the spirit of Christmas still live on.

Merry Christmas!


HalfCrazy said...

Hi there, Patti! I know I haven't been around for a really long while! I even neglected the Friday Town Shootouts but I hope to join again but I gotta finish other things first. I'm excited to represent my country again!

That's a really good photo up there!

Gave me goosebumps upon learning Virginia died in 1971.

Much Love,

imac said...

May you and your family have a Merry Christmas.