I can remember believing in Santa right up until my double-digit years. My Mom was responsible for instilling within me a deep love for the Holiday season, I’ll never know the strength and endurance it took for her to keep up that faith.
My mom died in 2001, and that first Christmas without her was hell. It was just awful, everyone was walking on eggshells because they were trying so hard to make it special when it just couldn’t be special anymore. It hurt more than anything I could imagine, my heart was broken and there’s still a few cracks in it.
But as I got older, and the years kinder, I began to realize that my mother instilled within me all the tools I needed to make Christmas special. She made sure that we always spent it with family and friends, and, while presents were exciting, it was the time spent wrapping those for others that was more important. I still ache for her, I still long to hear her voice and have her wrap her arms around me, it still hurts. It will always hurt, but the pain becomes more bearable I suppose.
But back to Santa.
See it wasn’t really Santa that I believed in, it was magic. I believe in magic. I believe that there is something in this sometimes shitty world worth fighting for. What that something is, well that varies person to person. There is a lot of really awful things happening in our world right now, but I beg of you please don’t become jaded or cynical. I know it’s awfully hard, but here me out.
Francis Pharcellus Church was a newsman, in 1897 he received a letter from an 8-year old girl, Virginia O’Hanlon, asking if there was such a thing as Santa Claus. Now Church was a newsman, he was probably weathered and maybe a little jaded himself; after all adulthood wears on us all. He could have just as easy tossed this letter aside, forgetting about it and disregarding it as a silly childish whim.
But he didn’t.
Something moved Church, maybe he was a father, maybe the childish scribbles on the page before him moved him to think that this was the most important piece he would ever write. For if children can’t believe in Santa, what hope do we have for the future?
On Sept. 21, 1897 The New York Sun printed the letter and Church’s response to it, it has become the most famous piece of newspaper editorial ever. Allow me to quote it:
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?
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 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.
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
I’m far from a person of religious belief, such as a Christian or what have you, but I am someone who believes that there are things in this world that we just aren’t meant to understand. There is an inherent good in this world, there is beauty, and there is love.
This Christmas do what makes you feel love, peace, and remember: Yes, there is a Santa Claus.