FORT WORTH, Texas December 18, 2013 — “Is Santa Claus real?”
Parents the world over have dealt with this question since Clement Moore published his famous tome, A Visit from St. Nicholas in 1823.
The real St. Nicholas was a bishop in the 3rd century in what is now Turkey. He was originally depicted tall and thin wearing priest’s vestments. But illustrators Washington Irving and Thomas Nast along with Moore’s description of the saint created the Santa Claus we know and love.
So what to tell the children when they ask the age-old question? Some parents continue the tradition of Santa Claus and his trek on Christmas Eve. Others focus on the religious aspect of Christmas celebrating only the birth of the Christ Child. Many people do both.
Santa’s reality is a matter of perspective, really.
A long time ago little girl in New York City asked her father if Santa Claus was real. He told her to write and ask the editor at the Sun, a major newspaper in New York at that time. Editor Francis Pharcellus Church answered her on September 21, 1897.
Now known as “Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus,” it is the most reprinted editorial in history. There are books and movies from it too.
It’s no wonder. The first lines of Church’s response say, “They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age.” And it has only gotten worse in the last 116 years. Faith has fallen by the wayside whether in religious beliefs, government, freedom, the justice system, jobs and so on.
Humans need to believe in something whether a Deity Who created the universe or more personal and abstract concepts like goodness, kindness, and love. Or real concrete subjects like other people. Santa Claus embodies the second two.
Despite the changes in our world and providing for the fact that kids are far more sophisticated now than in Virginia’s day, Church’s answer is still right on the money.
Having faith is what it’s all about. Our beings need the positive as much as our physical bodies need food. Without it we lose hope. When there is no hope there is no life.
What better gift to give a child? Faith, hope and love last a lifetime, never depreciate, no one can steal them, they can’t be taxed and they don’t wear out. They are a strong foundation on which to build a successful life. And when you give them away they come back to you. That is what Santa Claus represents and what better way to teach children through the giving of gifts?
Yes, some parents buy their kids everything they want, leave it at that and call it love. Like anything else in life it is what you do with the gifts that make them good or bad. The choice is yours.
Read what Francis Church had to say on the subject:
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 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.
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