Contributed by Marilyn Bennett
Is there really a Santa Claus? The question was sent to the New York Sun by eight-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon on September 21, 1897.
The answer as given by veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church has since become history’s most reprinted newspaper editorial. I will not attempt to give a better or more complete answer. I will simply try to help the modern reader understand why the question is still so important.
We especially need the childlike faith in a Santa Claus more than ever. How sad I feel for those children who made it through their childhood not believing in Fairies and Mermaids. Plus, all the other charming and fun creatures that helped me through my tough times. Life can be troubling and complicated for a child, so an escape into another world is sometimes needed.
Now that cultural appropriation is taking away pretending to be someone from another country, the imaginary world is more important than ever. The media can only introduce the child to the world of fantasy. To truly explore the wonders of an imaginary world, the child needs time alone to think of what he or she would like the world to be like.
I believe that children want a world filled with leprechauns, fairies, and mermaids. A world where wishes really do come true. Where Peter Pan could show up at any time and whisk them away to a Never Never Land. Where falling down a rabbit hole could lead to an adventure in Alice’s Wonder Land. Also, I always wanted to step into a closet and see another world or walk down the Yellow Brick Road with the Scarecrow.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, I grew up and had to leave the world of make believe and live in the real world. We all reach that real world soon enough. So, please let your child or the child in you still retain some of the magic. I for one will always believe in Santa Claus. There is so much in this world that I don't know or understand, so who am I to say that Santa Claus does not exist?
To answer the question: Is there really a Santa Claus? I can only repeat the answer from the New York Sun:
"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."
I hope these words from so long ago will not be forgotten. To encourage children and ourselves to be good all year cannot be a bad thing. I feel that it is important to remember to treasure the Spirit of Christmas with a belief in the goodness of the idea of a Santa Claus.