Today, this newspaper’s editorial board offers readers an early Christmas gift in the form of what we believe is the best Christmas editorial ever written.
It initially appeared not in December, but in September 1897, in the New York Sun, after 8-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon asked her now
“Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus … Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?”
We believe no one has answered the question better, nor has anyone better described the spirit of Christmas. In fact, the Sun’s simple answer seems to take on more power as the world becomes more complicated.
With our best wishes for a beautiful holiday, here is Sun editorial writer Francis P. Church’s reply to every child of every age:
“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, not even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernatural 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.”
From our family to yours, have a very blessed and merry Christmas!