The Ritzville Adams County Journal - Eastern Adams County's Only Independent Voice Since 1887

Yes Virginia, and everyone else, there is a Santa Claus


Last updated 12/20/2012 at Noon

(Editor’s Note: Eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of New York’s Sun, and the quick response was printed as an unsigned editorial Sept. 21, 1897. The work of veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church 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.

“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 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.

(Publisher’s Note: These days, too many of us look at Christmas as a commercial event, a bother, an intrusion in our daily lives. We have become so busy and so consumed by instantaneous and spontaneous daily lifestyle that we are missing the value and the magic of many longstanding traditions. I encourage you to stop just for a little while and enjoy the sparkle of the Christmas lights, the fresh scent of the Christmas tree and the laughter of the children as they relish the excitement of Christmas morning. These are memories that last forever and should not be lost or missed.

Christmas has deep spiritual meaning for many that must be preserved and revered. And for centuries, Santa Claus has danced in the hearts and minds of children around the world.

Christmas is not unique to you and I. True, it is not the only celebration in the world, but on Dec. 25, 2012, Christmas is the celebration of the day in America. And I prefer to embrace it as my parents and grandparents have done before me: as a grand day... a time for celebration and a time for expressions of love, and gratitude for family and friends.

However you choose to celebrate the day, please do so joyfully. Don’t let the world’s problems and challenges intrude where they do not belong. Make sure to read our Christmas Greetings section. The children’s letters are entertaining and the pastors’ messages capture their perspective of the spiritual side of this great day.

We wish you ALL, a very Merry Christmas!

—Stephen McFadden


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