Sunday, December 24, 2017

Yes, Virginia

In 1879, 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*.

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 W. 95th St. NY

    “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 to 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.”

    Merry Christmas, and may this new year bring you joy, laughter, and prosperity.

*The work of veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church.


  1. I absolutely love your watercolor, mind if I send it on to my girls and grands?
    It's a minus 27 as i write, winter decided to leave no doubt, plus the foot or so of additional snow we've gotten last few days.
    I hope you and yours are well.

    1. Hi Mike,
      Just saw your note - delighted to share
      the painting with you and your family.
      With all Best Wishes!

  2. Replies
    1. Many thanks, dear Sean. :)

    2. "You may tear apart.............there is nothing else real and abiding." I quote that paragraph, but there's nothing I could possibly add. May the veil part for you and yours, dear Susan.

    3. I agree, Tom, it really does say it all.
      Happy Christmas to you too.

  3. Hi Susan,
    Thanks again for your lovely picture and all of the uplifting posts inclusive of this one during 2017. Best wishes for 2018.

    1. Hi Lindsay,
      Thanks for your kind words. It's been good to share the blogging world with you all this time.
      Best wishes to you and your wife for a very Happy New Year.

  4. Such beautiful art work, Susan, with a great reply from the newspaper! So timely after watching Miracle on 34th Street (the 1994 version)! Hope you had a heartwarming Christmas, and all the best in 2018.

    1. Many thanks, Marja-Leena. I'm delighted to know you enjoyed them both and the movie. Happy New Year to you too.

  5. I'm buying in to the whole thing. Your wonderful watercolor and the famous message...:)