Lest we forget amid the hustle and bustle of a frantic holiday season, children are an integral part of this religious holiday. It is, after all, the birth of a child we celebrate.
As we watch the children each Christmas season, we are always reminded of that ages-old question that troubles so many girls and boys this time of year: Is there a Santa Claus?
It is a tradition on the Tribune-Star Opinion page each Christmas Eve to revisit the issue by reprinting the famous letter to the editor of the New York Sun in 1897.
Its author, little Virginia O’Hanlon, wrote:
“I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. My papa says, ‘If you see it in the Sun, it’s so.’ Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?”
In a New York Sun editorial, Francis E. Church wrote the response to Virginia that day. His message has endured for more than a century.
For all who ask, “Is Santa Claus real?” we reprint Church’s words today:
* * *
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 comprehended 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
He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to our 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 childish 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 men, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only fancy, poetry, love, romance can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory behind. 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.