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A Christmas reminder

Our view: This year, more than most, we need Santa Claus

6:00 AM EST, December 24, 2012

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Christmas is a holiday of peace and joy, and most of all a time of wonder and innocence for children. It is a time of belief in magic and goodness, a day when small wishes come true. This year, in particular, we need reminding of that fact.

It has been less than two weeks since a town in Connecticut was rent by unspeakable horror, an event so terrible that it spread sadness in the hearts of men, women, boys and girls across the globe. In the face of such profound grief, it feels difficult, even unseemly, to remember that miracles occur at Christmas.

But they do. The joy on the face of a child who sees the presents — however meager or lavish — that have appeared under the tree on Christmas morning is a miracle. The love and laughter of families reunited is a miracle. The simple act of thinking of others before ourselves is a miracle.

Santa Claus is a miracle.

One hundred and fifteen years ago, an editorial writer at The Sun (of New York, not, sadly, Baltimore) made that very point in his response to a young girl who had written to the paper to express her doubts. It is likely the most famous editorial ever written, and we don't dare to imagine that we could top it. But we do humbly suggest that this is a year when we could all use to read it one more time.

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 NINETY-FIFTH STREET.

VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except 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.

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