Thursday, December 2, 2010

Is there a Santa Claus

There are many, many children (and adults!) who will ask the oft-repeated query "Do you believe in Santa Claus?" or "Is Santa Clause real?"

During my childhood, I subscribed to a childrens magazine called Childrens World. As I outgrew childhood and then my teenage years, we started disposing off old issues of this magazine. However, I loved some of the stories so much that I made a little collection and had them bound together into 1 book. Very unfortunately, one of my best-loved stories with the title "Is there a Santa Claus?" had torn pages so I could not put it in that book. Today, when posting this very first blog on Christmas, I decided to use the wonders of the Internet to find that story. Yes! I found it! It was in an editorial of the New York Sun published on September 12th, 1897 and reprinted in subsequent years.

Here is that very extraordinary story which touched my heart...and will surely touch yours too.

The New York Sun, September 12th 1897
We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:

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

The Editor's reply: 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 external 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 you 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 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, 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 lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

You can see the image of the above article here:  Newseum

Virginia O'Hanlon, the 8-year girl who sent of the query on Santa Claus, took up a career as a schoolteacher. She died in 1971. Read about her here: Virginia O'Hanlon Biography. It mentions the name of the Editor who answered Virginia's query - Francis Church.

Virginia's childhood home was bought by the Studio School along with the adjacent building in 2003. If I am not wrong, this is the present school: The Studio School

Do I believe in Santa Claus? Yes, I do - and in God, fairies, elves and angels too. Really.

Want to send or call up Santa Claus?
Find out the best way to send a letter to Santa Claus

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