Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Yes, Virginia, there is a Jesus!

Today I looked up the newspaper column that made famous the phrase, "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus." It first appeared in The New York Sun in 1897 as editor, Francis Church's response to a letter from 8-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon. It really is a beautiful little piece--worthy of my posting here for you to see. However, I do have a few more cents to add about the subject. I love the Christmas season! I love the lights, the music, the snow, the eggnog, the decorations, and all the Christmas movies that run non-stop on, about those Christmas movies. The other night as I was winding down from a long day of studying, I flipped on the TV and stumbled upon a made for TV movie on some inspirational religious channel. This one was unique in that it actually focused on what Christmas is really about--Christ!Go figure. Anyway,it made me think. It seems that Christmas movies are always associating the spirit of Christmas with the spirit of Santa Claus, not the spirit of Christ. I mean, really, think about all the Christmas movies you know where the whole point is to get the cynical workaholic or the deprived, disbelieving child to renew hope and happiness by believing in Santa Claus. Need a little help? Try Elf, Miracle on 34th Street, The Polar Express...I'm not saying these are bad. I enjoy them as much as anyone else, and I think that the purpose of these movies is the same as the purpose of Church's letter to Virginia--to remind people about simple child-like faith and joy. It's just funny to me that it takes a big fat man with a white beard and a flying reindeer to spark that faith in people--a spark that's lit on black Friday, and sputters out when people recover from their hang-overs Jan 2nd. I have to pause and ask, what happened here? The name of the holiday isn't Santamas, it's Christmas. Why not spend our time trying to remind people about the REAL man of the season. Isn't it more important to remember Christ than it is to remember Santa? Yes, "Santa" brings presents and holiday cheer, but Jesus Christ has given us a gift that can't be wrapped in paper and ribbons. He gave us his life. And he can bring us joy that will last everyday of the year. He doesn't appear at the mall once a year for us to climb onto his lap and tell him what we want. He doesn't need us to send him a letter listing our requests. Christ is ALWAYS there for us. He already knows our needs and our deepest desires. The spirit of Christmas, is the spirit of love, kindness, and charity, everything that Christ is. So, this year, I want to reword Church's response to that little 8-year old girl and say, "Yes, Virginia, there is a Jesus!"

Here's the letter and the response:
"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."


Wan Family said...

Thanks Cim, I have been thinking about this a lot lately. My kids have been obsessed with Santa and I think sometimes Christ is an after thought. While explaining Santa this year for the hundredth time I realized that it is not a far stretch for Santa to be a symbol of Heavenly Father and the gifts He has given us. When I think of it that way, and explain it that way, the kids seem to understand and it helps me feel the true "Christ"mas spirit.