Dec 25 2008

MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE!

Published by at 2 25 am under Chit Chat

I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in thecity of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.

Luke 2:10,11

Here it is, Christmas Eve 2008, and we just returned from church. We have a Christmas Eve Candlelight Service that is just so beautiful with all the candles burning in the otherwise darksanctuary as the congregation sings Silent Night. It truly evokes feelings that no other service throughout the year can match. We have all been so busy this past month or so getting ready for Christmas– let us all now relax and take in the true wonder that Christmas signifies — the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who was sent here not only to live among us but to die on the cross for us, providing a way for each of us to have eternal life in heaven. Praise the Lord!!! MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE!!!

And before I go, I’d like to leave you with a favorite piece that I have read each Christmas since my childhood. It’s the “Yes, Virginia” story. I shared it here last year and was amazed at the amount of people who had never read this before. I find it a heart-warming piece to read, and re-read, each year. I hope you enjoy it whether you have read it before or not. Here it is:

Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus

By Francis P. Church, first published in The New York Sun in 1897. [See The Peoples Almanac, pp. 13589.]

We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:

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, its so. Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?

Virginia OHanlon

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 mens or childrens, 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 external 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 you 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 thats no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You tear apart the babys 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, 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 lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

About the Exchange

Francis P. Churchs editorial, Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus was an immediate sensation, and went on to became one of the most famous editorials ever written. It first appeared in the The New York Sun in 1897, almost a hundred years ago, and was reprinted annually until 1949 when the paper went out of business.

Thirty-six years after her letter was printed, Virginia OHanlon recalled the events that prompted her letter:

Quite naturally I believed in Santa Claus, for he had never disappointed me. But when less fortunate little boys and girls said there wasnt any Santa Claus, I was filled with doubts. I asked my father, and he was a little evasive on the subject.

It was a habit in our family that whenever any doubts came up as to how to pronounce a word or some question of historical fact was in doubt, we wrote to the Question and Answer column in The Sun. Father would always say, If you see it in the The Sun, its so, and that settled the matter.

Well, Im just going to write The Sun and find out the real truth, I said to father.

He said, Go ahead, Virginia. Im sure The Sun will give you the right answer, as it always does.

And so Virginia sat down and wrote her parents favorite newspaper.

Her letter found its way into the hands of a veteran editor, Francis P. Church. Son of a Baptist minister, Church had covered the Civil War for The New York Times and had worked on the The New York Sun for 20 years, more recently as an anonymous editorial writer. Church, a sardonic man, had for his personal motto, Endeavour to clear your mind of cant. When controversal subjects had to be tackled on the editorial page, especially those dealing with theology, the assignments were usually given to Church.

Now, he had in his hands a little girls letter on a most controversial matter, and he was burdened with the responsibility of answering it.

Is there a Santa Claus? the childish scrawl in the letter asked. At once, Church knew that there was no avoiding the question. He must answer, and he must answer truthfully. And so he turned to his desk, and he began his reply which was to become one of the most memorable editorials in newspaper history.

Church married shortly after the editorial appeared. He died in April, 1906, leaving no children.

Virginia OHanlon went on to graduate from Hunter College with a Bachelor of Arts degree at age 21. The following year she received her Masters from Columbia, and in 1912 she began teaching in the New York City school system, later becoming a principal. After 47 years, she retired as an educator. Throughout her life she received a steady stream of mail about her Santa Claus letter, and to each reply she attached an attractive printed copy of the Church editorial. Virginia OHanlon Douglas died on May 13, 1971, at the age of 81, in a nursing home in Valatie, N.Y.

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Thank you so much for stopping in today!!! I’ll be back with our usual Friday Stamp Simply Challenge. Hope to see you then!!! MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

4 responses so far

4 Responses to “MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE!”

  1. LateBlossom says:

    Merry Christmas, Sharon! Thanks so much for putting so much time and energy into your blog. Your work is such an inspiration to me and so many others. Blessings!

  2. Lisa Brown says:

    Merry Christmas, Sharon! I love this famous editorial and so glad you have shared it here along with other information on the life of Virginia. Thanks for sharing so much with us—God bless you!

  3. Ursula in RSA says:

    Hi Sharon,
    I have just stumbled on your blog and just love the editorial that you shared. What a lovely story. thanks so much I will certainly visit again.

  4. Jerri Kay says:

    Sharon, I remember reading this last year and loving it. Thank you for sharing it with us again this year.

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