Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Yes, (fill in name here)...there is a Santa Clause!

Last night, I had one of those parenting moments when you just don't know what to say. 

I should have known it was coming...there have been clues.
The Easter Bunny fell first last spring.  She told me the day after Easter.  He just stopped making sense to her.  Why would a bunny, and a giant bunny at that, bring eggs?  Good question, darling brilliant daughter.
Then the Tooth Fairy fell during the summer.  I think the movie had something to do with that.  How convenient that the Tooth Fairy had just left $5 for a particularly yucky dentist visit that involved the early removal of a molar.  Dear daughter was smart enough to "keep believing" in the Tooth Fairy until she had cashed in.

But Santa? 
Not dear, old, Saint Nick. 
Not yet.
I'm not ready for this part of her childhood to be gone. 
It's too soon.
(Is it bad for tears to soak my laptop?)

When I was a little younger than my ten year old daughter, I stopped believing in Santa.  My parents wanted my younger sister to keep believing, and I guess they feared that I would destroy her childhood with my disbelief (I probably would have), so they got my uncle to dress as Santa and arranged for my sister and I to "catch" Santa in the act of leaving presents under the tree.  It worked.  I believed in Santa until I was thirteen.  (Yes, I was the only eighth grader in the world who still believed in Santa and, yes, I still have emotional scars from the ridicule of my classmates and my little sister who had stopped believing long before I did). 
I guess I was just really sad that Santa was no longer a part of my life.  My parents and grandparents had always made Christmas wonderful and they knew it would never be the same again once it wasn't about Santa anymore. 
Anyway, my mom found a copy of a letter written to The New York Sun back in 1897 by a little girl named Virginia who wanted to know if Santa was real.  Newsman Francis Pharcellus Church wrote The Sun's response to Virginia. The response is exactly what I wish I could have said to my darling doubting daughter last night when she asked me if there really was a Santa.  I've never forgotten this letter.  When I was sixteen, I purchased a Christmas ornament with the letter and response printed inside.  It's still one of my favorite ornaments. 
I plan to print a copy for my daughter.  Maybe it will affect her like it did me. 
Deep down...I still believe in Santa Clause.  Don't you?  I bet you will after you read it.    

Eight-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of New York's Sun, and the quick response was printed as an unsigned editorial Sept. 21, 1897. The work of veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church has since become history's most reprinted newspaper editorial, appearing in part or whole in dozens of languages in books, movies, and other editorials, and on posters and stamps.

"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?

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 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.

(Okay, lots of tears on my laptop.  I'm glad I bought the extended warranty.)

Now, go start your Christmas shopping.  And don't forget to hide the Santa gifts really well. 

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