It takes quite a few years for my column to fall on Christmas Eve, so I’m going to take advantage of this rare opportunity to enjoy some of this special day with all of you. Once upon a time, actually back on Sept. 21, 1897, a little girl received an answer to a question that had been bothering her. The response to her question appeared in the New York Sun newspaper and was written by newsman Francis P. Church. Church, himself, long ago drifted into obscurity, but his response to the little girl’s letter has become a Christmas classic – well worth reading on this special day.
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 Clause?
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.