Yesterday I was Christmas shopping, my daughter joined me later in the day. I had a list of people to buy for–her and her brother among them–so I had to be careful about my packages and such. At the end of our excursion we got into a cab and as we were driving she looked at me and said: “Mom, can you still sign our packages ‘From Santa‘?” You see, as of last year, there aren’t any “believers” in our house anymore. Of course I said sure, but I was reminded of something from long ago.
When I was eight-years-old, just three days before Christmas, I told my parents I knew there was no Santa Claus. Poor timing, I know. My father, who was probably sad facing the disillusionment of youngest child, decided to share the story of Virgina O’Hanlon. I have no idea how he found a book with this story three days before Christmas, this was pre-internet, pre-Amazon, pre-expedited delivery–but he did. Regardless, this story had a tremendous impact on me, not so much then… I mean, it did then but it’s force would truly come later in life and it’s after effects would be felt many times over.
Virgina O’Hanlon was also eight when she sent her letter to the New York’s Sun editor, Francis Pharcellus, asking him if Santa Claus existed. The response that Pharcellus crafted was in the affirmative and, quite miraculously, managed to answer the question honestly… It was beautiful, poetic and true. I can still remember my father reading both Virginia’s letter and the reporter’s response and swapping my name in for the little girls: “Yes, Juliana there is a Santa Claus” and “All minds, Juliana, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little.”
So as my daughter and I sat in the back seat of a taxi, I started to explain: “when I was eight-years-old…”
Then I pulled out my phone and found a link with both the letter from Virginia and the response from Pharcellus and read them both to her. As I got to the parts with Virginias name, I swapped them out for hers: “Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no MADDIES.”
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- Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus (blogs.ottawacitizen.com)
- Best editorial quote ever: “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” (Still? In 2013?) (timpanogos.wordpress.com)
- Yes, Virginia . . . (nysun.com)