In my religion, there is no Santa Claus. Only Jesus is the reason for the season. This year, the newspaper I work for in Malaysia is selling Christmas cards for charity. The designs are taken from winning entries of our competition for school children. When I discovered they are all about Santa Claus, I declined to sell the cards which surprised my colleagues.
I asked them why they hadn’t pick some other designs. “All the good entries featured Santa Claus,” one replied.
“That’s precisely my point, even children now associate Santa Claus with Christmas,” I tried reasoning with them but in vain. I must have sounded like a wet blanket.
That got me wondering. When my two young grandchildren are old enough to ask me why they can’t have Santa Claus for Christmas, what would I tell them?
Shall I tell them Santa Claus is not real? Well, what about Barbie doll, Winnie the Pooh, and Pokemon ? They can’t have that too? What a disappointment I would surely be to them.
So I decided to take the Xmas cards to my church to sell them after all. But very few bought them. One took a look and said, “Santa Claus is bad theology.”
Virginia O’Hanlon faced this poser too. It was 111 years ago that she wrote The New York Sun for an answer.
“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?
Francis Pharcellus Church, a pastor’s son and a senior writer at The Sun, reportedly brushed the matter aside when his editor asked him to attend to Virginia’s letter. Yet under deadline pressure, he came to the conclusion: ‘Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus.’
Published on 21 Sept 1897, the editorial was an immediate sensation and was reprinted annually in The Sun until 1950 when the paper was merged with another paper but eventually folded up 17 years later.
Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except what 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 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.
Yes, it takes faith for an accomplished writer like Church to persuade Virginia there is a Santa Claus. It takes much less faith, perhaps, to believe Christmas is about the Christ.
What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we do hope for is going to happen.It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see. (Hebrews 11:1, The Holy Bible NLT)
Have a blessed Christmas.