Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Christmas Hope

I admit I'm in denial that there are only 40-something days left until Christmas and far more tasks to be done than can possibly be fit into that time frame. Decorating, shopping, cooking, shopping, baking, shopping, class parties, shopping, charity gifts, shopping, gift wrapping.... Ugh.

A 112 yearold editorial from The Sun newspaper of New York City. This letter, and Francis Church's reply were originally featured on page seven, 8th letter down (after a letter about those new-fangled chain bicycles) during the Christmas season of 1897. It is the most reprinted editorial in the English language.

Rob and I were discussing how wonderfully this letter rises above the innocent question of a child and challenges us to take on the roll of Santa ourselves to those we love and to all of those with whom we share this world. I have highlighted my favorite sentiment of Mr. Church's wonderful response to little Virginia.

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.


Aunty Evil said...

With all that shopping to do, you'd better get a move on!

Rob said...

Santa Claus is an ideal that is realized in the nature of those who choose to give and is manifested as Hope to those who recieve. To paraphrase Morpheus..."We are none of us Santa Claus and we are all of us Santa Claus.

Stomper Girl said...

Oh I love that letter. Cherub is asking me a lot of questions about Santa at the moment, practical questions about chimneys and such.

Cherub also wishes that it was Christmas tomorrow (he's been fired up since I said 40-odd days to go) and I said NO!! I've got way too much shopping still to do. But at least I've started.

Fairlie said...

I never really start thinking about Christmas until after my birthday, which makes it all a mad dash for the finish line...and then I collapse in a heap afterwards.

My favourite line? " Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus."

Aunty Evil said...

32 days to go.

Just a community service announcement from your Aunty Evil.

Lightening said...

I think Christmas creeps up on most of us every year. I try to keep things as simple as possible and really enjoy the season. It loses some of it's "specialness" if I try to do too much. :)

I so love that letter and story that circulates. :) It's a good challenge for all of us really. In fact, that's what I love most about Christmas - seeing the love and human spirit that comes out of most of us.

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