We've posted variations of the following editorial around Christmastime on several occasions, most recently in 2013. It commemorates the famous reply to a letter from little Virginia way back in 1897, entitled, "Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus."
You can see our previous essay here.
Eight-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon wrote her famous letter to the editor of the New York Sun in 1897, and the even more famous response was published on Sept. 21, 1897. The writer was Francis Pharcellus Church who was actually the brother of the publisher of the Sun.
Church's wonderful reply commemorates the best part of a bygone era. It was a time when there was a good deal more confidence in Western society and faith that human evolution was an exciting and unplanned voyage rather than a kind of directed history organized from the top down – as it often seems today.
Full of empathy and a kind of humble defiance, the essay recalls an age when even the best media minds conceived of an exciting "great conversation" in terms of "isms" – communism, socialism, capitalism, etc.
Unfortunately, if you comment in the alternative media these days, it's hard to believe in many of these categories anymore. The Internet has shown us fairly definitively that these structures – organized around government – are yet more socio-political and economic memes, designed it seems to keep us chattering about ways that the few can provide order to the many.
Our journey, fortunately or not, has taken us in a different direction. Along with many others we've discovered what was known long ago, that there is really only one great conversation and one great solution – which is the freedom to take human action to improve our lives as best we can.
And so as we approach the end of this year 2014, I'd like to take the time to remind people that the most practical way to approach these perilous times is to "live free in an unfree world," as my friend and mentor Harry Browne used to say.
Yes, the ever-expanding state can limit your options, but it usually does not do away with them directly – at least not yet. There are always ways to expand your freedoms and secure your portion of happiness and peace-of-mind.
Our just-implemented redesign, well received by our readers, is intended to help you navigate the troubled waters of the 21st century. We've identified certain trends that you may wish to grapple with in order to generate a more secure future for yourself and your loved ones. Our Trend Trackers menu item now points readers to our published material relating to each of these. As this year evolves, we'll elaborate on those trends and offer significant solutions that you can take advantage of if you wish.
For now, on behalf of our entire team, I want to express the wish that everyone concentrates on enjoying the holiday season as best they can, and that it is a safe one for you, spent among loved ones.
The essay published in the Sun begins directly below with Virginia's letter…
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 O'Hanlon, 115 West 95th St. – NY Sun (defunct)
(Mr. Church's response:) We take pleasure in answering at once and thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of THE SUN.
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.