Today is Friday and on Fridays I normally post my Friday Fiction.
Today, however, I am going to deviate from this and post a well known and loved story. While this story isn’t fiction, it does have an element of fiction in it. It has been turned into books, songs, movies and TV specials.
I have to say, I love this story. There is a quality about it that draws me to it each year. One of the most fascinating thing about this story to me, is the fact that the writer didn’t want to write it and refused to attach his name to it.
In September 1897, a young eight-year-old girl came home with a question for her father. “Is there really a Santa Clause?”
Apparently, her friends had told her he was just a made up tale. Little Virginia was devastated and didn’t want to believe it. Her father told her to write into the newspaper for the answer. Was he trying to avoid telling his daughter the truth; hoping the new paper would do it for him or wishing they would confirm the real story of St Nick? I’ve always wondered. In either case, Virginia was told to write, and she wrote.
Francis Pharcellus Church has since become history’s most reprinted newspaper editorial. It’s reprinted every year in several different languages. He was a proclaimed atheist but wrote one of the most sensitive arguments for belief in the unseen and faith in the unknown.
Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus.
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 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 supernatural 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.