“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.” ~ Francis Pharcellus Church
The famous, “Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus,” letter never loses its ability to re-acquaint me with the spirit of the holiday season.
Every time I read it, I am blown away by the respect that was given to young Virginia, for her comprehension of the magic and spirit of it all.
I can only hope to match that level of respect with my very own daughter, to see that potential in her, even when I am often blinded by her incomprehensible behavior.
As a good friend of ours said about Opal, “She is still so close to the mystery.” She remains our liaison to that world.
Here is the letter to Virginia. Bless her heart—I hope she held on to her skepticism for everything that disputed the miraculous, long into adulthood…
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 written by veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church.
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, 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.
On a day where everything felt wrong, strange, sideways, and where my perspective was seemingly immune to attempts at clarity, this letter worked wonders to sharpen my lens and harness my focus back on what is important.
Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
Yes, yes, yes.
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Editor: Rachel Nussbaum
Photo: Nellies78 via flickr