Tuesday, December 21, 2010

“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus…”


As most of you know that line (“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus”) was written in 1897 in answer to 8 year-old Virginia O’Hanlon‘s inquiry. It was printed in the New York “Sun” and is history’s most reprinted newspaper editorial.

I wasn’t named Virginia as a result of that famous letter but I can remember my father reading it to me every Christmas during my childhood. He had a deep, melodic voice and he really hammed it up as he read.

The second paragraph is the one that is repeated most often but I love the opening too. Here is a synopsis:

“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. …

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! … 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.”


Editorial page, THE New York SUN, Sept. 21, 1897
Written by: Francis P. Church

7 Comments:

Blogger Diana said...

I love this Ginnie, if my Ginny had a dollar for every time someone mentioned that article to her as a girl, she'd be rich!! Have a Blessed Christmas! Love Di ♥

2:00 PM  
Blogger Syd said...

That is a story that I remember too. My grandmother read it to me. I like having those dreams and childlike fantasies.

6:12 PM  
Blogger kenju said...

That was read to me too.

8:59 PM  
Blogger Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Very timely post, Ginnie, especially after we just watched Mircale on 34th St this week (as we do every holiday season). Not believe in Santa Claus - how preposterous!

4:54 AM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

Unlike everyone else, I missed this story. Until now. I do believe though.

6:37 AM  
Anonymous Alan G said...

I, like Anvilcloud, was also quite unfortunate to have never heard of this letter – much less had it read to me.

My dreams of a “Santa lives forever” were shattered on a city bus sometime around 1947 when my mother and I were on our way back from a trip downtown. My suspicions had been recently aroused by fellow classmates but I remained skeptical. That fatal evening I asked my mom if there really was a Santa because of the dreadful rumors I had been hearing and after some moments of silence, my world was shattered with a grown-up’s revelation regarding my beloved Santa.

But that was only the beginning of my sorrows that fatal evening. It was on that same tragic bus ride that I was too also learn that the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny had also been part of this grown-up conspiracy.

Life as I had always known it was to never be the same again...

5:20 AM  
Blogger possum said...

My friends used to think it was so strange when I used to fill up my van with toys and go to an area we call Little Guatamala where the illegals live... outsiders are NOT allowed in - in fact the area looks deserted, old burned out trailers... But the kids would come to school in January and the other kids would brag about what they got - then ask the Guatamalan kids what they got. I'll never forget the first time I watched that happen. The kid put his head down on his desk - and his paper had tear stains on it after.
So, there I was, a non-Christian with a van full of toys (and an interpreter)a day or two before Christmas, creeping down an unbelievably bad road into a deserted trailer park.
SOmehow or another the van left there rather empty, and I was filled with hot chocolate and burritos.
An interesting note, the trailers were immaculate inside. Maybe they were patched with scraps of plywood and old boards, but they were squeaky clean.
My kids did not have to hang their heads when they came back to school.
Some people thought it was just so wrong to do that, but the children did nothing wrong. And they were angels in school!
So, yeah, there are so many Santa Claus's - and some of them aren't even Christians!

2:02 PM  

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