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Monday, December 19, 2011

Yes, Virginia

Christmas has always been synonymous with magic for me. Santa Claus was my first taste of believing in something bigger and better than the world I could see around me. I never wondered too much about how he managed to get the job done. He got the job done because of the magic. That was good enough for me when I was five and it's good enough for me now.

I know there aren't many who haven't read or at least heard of "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus," but since it's almost Christmas, and since it's easier than ever to be affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age, I think I'd like to share it here again. This essay is best read aloud, but it's up to you. Don't be shy about substituting any name at all for "Virginia" - your children's, or even your own. I won't tell. The author, Francis P. Church, wasn't only answering the little girl who wrote to THE SUN. He was writing to anyone who needed a reminder that the "most real things in the world are those that neither men nor children can see." (Check out the original link here.)
"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.
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, Virgina, 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."

4 comments:

Cassidy Jo said...

This is beautiful :) I've only ever heard bits and snatches of this letter. Thanks for sharing!

William Kendall said...

I've always loved that letter.

Merry Christmas!

Janiel Miller said...

Thank you for posting this! It's one of my favorite Christmas readings.

Russo said...

I agree with you, Christmas is always magical for me too. Ah, you second sentence is stunning.

And what a good idea to substitute the name of Virginia for someone's child. I took your idea and read it to my niece and she loved it. Thank you for creating a beautiful for her and I.