Pharos-Tribune

Columns

December 16, 2013

FREY: 'Yes, Virginia' editorial a Christmas classic

The year was 1897.

Virginia O’Hanlon was perplexed about the existence of Santa Claus.

Virginia’s father, seemingly evading the query, suggested that she write a letter to the The New York Sun for the answer.

So, taking pen in hand, Virginia wrote a four-sentence letter to the editor: “I am eight years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus? Papa says ‘if you see it in the Sun, it’s so.”

The letter found its way to veteran writer Francis Pharcellus Church who, in turn, wrote one of the most eloquent, moving, and whimsical editorials of all time.

Church began by informing Virginia that her little friends were wrong because they have been “affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age.

Church told Virginia that there is a Santa Claus, and that he “exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist,” and that they abound and give life its highest beauty and joy.

“Alas! How dreary would the world be if there were no Santa Claus?” Church questioned. “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.”

You might as well not believe in fairies, Church continued, expounding on the fact that the most real things in the world are those that neither children or 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.”

Church pointed out to Virginia that no one can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen in the world. Unlike a baby’s rattle, which can be torn apart to see the noise inside, the unseen world is covered with a veil that not even the strongest man can tear apart.

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