December 23, 2011
"One day in 1897, Mitchell said, "I handed to him (Frank) a letter that had come in the mail from a child of eight, saying: 'Please tell me the truth: is there a Santa Claus?' Her little friends had told her no. Church bristled and pooh-poohed at the subject when I suggested that he write a reply to Virginia O'Hanlon; but he took the letter and turned with an air of resignation to his desk. In a short time he had produced the article which has probably been reprinted during the past quarter of a century, as the classic expression of Christmas sentiment, more millions of times than any other newspaper article ever written by any newspaper-writer in any language."
If you haven’t read it in its entirety, you can here. If you have, it’s well worth reading again. I'd venture to say that no philosopher, pondering what it all means, ever said it better:
Here’s Church’s ending:
"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."
Virginia O’Hanlon, whose career as a school teacher and principal in New York City for 47 years, in a 1963 CBS interview:
"The older I grow, the more I realize what a perfect philosophy it is for life... Then, having been the recipient of such kindness — as Mr. Church writing to me, a little child — I feel a sort of responsibility about living up to some of the ideals and the more I see what it means to other people to have such a firm conviction in the best things in life — faith, love, poetry, romance."
Merry Christmas Everyone.