by Larry Peterson
I just though that I would make a suggestion to those highly sophisticated, elitist, and pontificating editorialists and pundits (both print & broadcast) around the country who have been apparently blessed with much more insight and wisdom than a shmoe like me will ever have. If some seven or eight year old kid writes you a letter asking about whether or not Santa Claus is TRUE please take a moment before answering to review the answer one of your colleagues, Francis Pharcellus Church penned to eight year old, Virginia O’Hanlon, 116 years ago. It answers this very question. This editorial has become a timeless classic and is the most reprinted editorial in newspaper history. I love it and believe it. (That’s right, I BELIEVE IT, so what. Hey, what did you expect. I did not go to Harvard.)
So, without further adieu:
Is There A Santa Claus?
From the editorial page of The New York Sun
September 21, 1897
Dear Editor—I am eight years old. Some of my 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?
115 W. 95th St.
Dear Virginia, your friends are wrong. They have been affected by the scepticism 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 isa 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 Virginia. There would be no child-like 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 you 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 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 time ten thousand years from now , he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year