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Yes Virginia There Is A Santa Claus
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?
115 West Ninety-fifth street.
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 tear apart the baby's rattle and see that 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 would 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.
.........................The Story Behind The Letter..................................
In 1897, Virginia O'Hanlon, an 8-year old girl living in New York City asked her father the question that is on the mind of all children during the Christmas season while they are growing up, namely "Is Santa Claus Real?". Caught off guard, as most parents are when this question is asked, Mr. O'Hanlon thought a moment and, rather than answering his daughter's query directly, suggested that she write a letter to the editor of the New York Sun. As the editor of such a large and influential paper, he would surely know the answer to her question.And Virginia did just that.
Like Virginia's father, the editor of the Sun was in a quandary over how to handle the letter. So he gave it to Mr. Frank Church, a writer who wrote a regular column for the Sun about the burning issues of the day. Mr. Church did not consider the existence of Santa Claus to be of sufficient importance to warrant his time and space in this column. But, his editor insisted and, since the editor was the boss, Frank Church was forced to think about little Virginia's question. After mulling her question for a few days, Mr. Church sat down and wrote, his now famous, reply to Virginia's letter.
Frank Church wrote many articles during his thirty-five year career as a writer for the New York Sun. The articles dealt with the great issues of the day and were read and contemplated by hundreds of thousands of readers.Today the New York Sun no longer exists. The great issues of those days, 100 years ago, are largely forgotten. The thought-provoking articles written by Mr. Church about those once important issues can only be found today in the yellowing copies of the Sun that reside in dusty basements of libraries. Both Virginia O'Hanlon and Frank Church are now dead. But, like Santa Claus, her letter and his reply remain timely and fresh and are reprinted, by popular demand, in thousands of newspapers and magazines every year. The big issues of the day come and go. It is the little things that touch peoples' hearts and lives that are remembered.
© 2006 Chuck Nugent