25 December 2005

Merry, merry...

Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus

Editorial Page, New York Sun, 1897

We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:

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 O'Hanlon

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 external 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, 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 lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

I really do believe that there is a Santa Claus. It makes no sense to believe in the president, the pope, or any of the other stories if you don't believe in Santa Claus. They hold no hope. Santa Claus is full of hope. As the native American Hopi adage goes, "When hope is gone life is over."

Lately, it sure seems like hope is going, if not yet gone. We are hit in the forehead daily with dismal news from around the world and in our country. People are hated just for being who they are. People are not trusted because of their familial background. People are dismissed because of who they love. People are diminished because of what they believe.

Usually, all of this is done in the name of some god. A god who is usually acknowledged as all-forgiving, all-loving, and all-enclusive. Believers of these gods spout off on beliefs and add their own, "Yes, but..." None of their gods have a "Yes, but..." in the theology. Righteousness is not an attribute of very many gods, but their followers are filled with it.

Santa Claus has no "Yes, but..." or righteousness. Santa Claus is hope and future. There is no prerequisite to believing in Santa Claus. No one has to swear to his "truth." No one has to belong to the "right" group. No one has to love the "correct" person. Everyone is the same.

These are some of the reasons why I, at the age of 58, believe in Santa Claus. He loves me for who I am just like he loves everyone for who they are - not what they are.

...merry, merry, merry, merry, merry, merry, merry, merry, merry, merry, merry, merry, merry, merry, merry, merry, merry!

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