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Monday, December 20, 2010

Yes, Virginia

One of my favorite Christmas stories and movie is Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus. The cartoon version is okay, but it is the 1991 movie, starring Richard Thomas, Ed Asner and Charles Bronson, that I love to watch. Unfortunately, it has not been on in years. I start searching the television guide (paper, online and on the television) to see when it will air and I continue to be disappointed. I've also searched for a place where it could be purchased so I could have my own copy. I was unable to find it until this year and I can’t wait for it to come in the mail.

This is not a new story to most people, but it still touches me all the same and I would like to share it in my last post of the year.

The editorial first appeared in the New York Sun on September 21, 1897. The question posed came from eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon. The response, and one of the best editorials ever written (in my opinion anyway) was penned by Francis Pharcellus Church. A copy of the article is posted, but I've typed it out since the article is a bit hard to read.

Is There a Santa Clause?

We take pleasure in answering at once and thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time out great gratification that its faithful author is numbed 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?”
“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 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 Clause. 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 job. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Clause. 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 word would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Clause! 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 Clause 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 word.

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 word there is nothing real and abiding.

No Santa Clause! 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.

I hope you all have a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


  1. That was beautiful, Amy. Now I want to find the movie too! I've never seen it, but I love Richard Thomas movies. The sentiment in this article can be applied to so many things. Very wise.

  2. I haven't seen the movie, either, but I've read that many, many times.

  3. We watched Miracle on 34th Street last night, the first time for my daughter, and it was such a pleasure. Doesn't that letter bring tears to your eyes? A lovely post, Amy.

  4. It is a lovely post. What a great letter to remind us to believe in things greater than ourselves.

  5. This is a great story, Amy. Thanks for reminding us about it.

  6. The movie was just on here where I live this past weekend. ;)

  7. Rula, the movie came in the mail this afternoon. Can't wait to watch it.

    Catherine, I hope you get a chance to see it.

    Gillian, thanks. Miracle on 34th Street (original is my favorite) is also a wonderful movie. It is on right now.

    Samantha, it alwasy remeinds me to believe in miracles and look for the good and always hope.

    Thanks, Clarissa.

    Katherine, so jealous. Wish I could have seen it, but I will get to watch it tonight :).