Dear Santa, spread your magic

Wade Young

In my older years, I have started to feel cynical (dare I say bitter?), and my Christmas list for this old world looks more like a massive complaint rather than a heartfelt letter to you.

So, in search of the true Christmas spirit, I pulled up one of the most famous editorials ever written, "Is there a Santa Claus?"

It seems like little eight-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon was having a case of the doubts, so she wrote a letter to the editor of New York’s Sun, and the quick response was printed as an unsigned editorial on September 21, 1897. It must have been bad because this was before the world wide web, Google, Snapchat or Grinches had any place in our vocabulary.

“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”

Veteran newsman and editor, Francis Pharcellus Church, penned the best response, which has since become history’s most reprinted newspaper editorial, appearing in part or whole in dozens of languages in books, movies, and other editorials, and on posters and stamps.

His response was spot-on and pure genius:

“VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except 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 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 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 times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.”

Mr. Church’s words were like Santa’s magic. I only need to find that external light that filled my childhood. Instead of worrying about money during the holidays and the extravagant amounts we spend on gifts we hope people will like (ARGH! The Grinch emerges!), I need to remember my kid’s expressions when they were little. I still love getting dressed up and going to church then to relatives’ houses for a fancy dinner. I love coming home and putting the kids to bed while we bring out the final gifts.

Christmas morning was and is always so much fun seeing their faces light up as they open their gifts. It made all the pre-holiday headaches worthwhile.

I have many wishes this year. Health, peace, the loss of a few pounds. But if I could tell Santa, I would ask for him to scatter some “Christmas memory dust” on the adults in this world because that would surely bring more peace than what we have right now.

Merry Christmas everyone!


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