Answers are matters of interpretation, not just right and wrong.
Interests are a question of preference, not a case of one dominant and one lesser.
And so it is with beliefs.
That which one chooses to embrace is one’s right without fear of retribution, retaliation or scorn.
On this heartwarming Christmas Eve, we refer you to a “Letter to the Editor” written in 1897 by a precious little 8-year-old girl named Virginia O’Hanlon who had this to say in her short handwritten note to “The Sun,” a now defunct newspaper formerly published in New York.
“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?”
In the 116 years since, Virginia’s letter has provoked much conversation among believers, nonbelievers and those who want to believe but remain unconvinced.
Their belief is that seeing is believing.
If we see it then it must be real, and therefore we can believe in it.
The argument’s merit is plausible, yet not altogether convincing.
Sometimes believing comes from deep within the heart — a knowing zone where individual truth is like beauty. It relies upon the eyes of the beholder.
We now refer you to the answer to Virginia’s simple question as penned in a Sun editorial by Francis Pharcellus Church who titled the response, “Is There a Santa Claus?”
Its opening reads:
“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.”
It is the editorial’s second paragraph that is best remembered:
“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 child-like 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.”
Assuredly, the existence of Santa Claus lies deep within the hearts and the imaginations of those who choose to believe, those who want to believe and those whose lives are made better by believing.
It has been said before, “Everybody’s gotta believe in something.”
Those who believe in nothing are those who see little potential — not in themselves, not in this world, not in this life.
Seeing is not believing.
Believing is believing.
Whether it be a red-suited Jolly Ol’ Elf named Santa or a red-nosed reindeer named Rudolph.
Whether it be a restless and eternal spirit within us all sparked by a will to make a difference in the lives of those around us.
Or whether it be the birth of a savior, our beloved Jesus Christ.
It isn’t about belief.
It is about believing.
In the message of that editorial so long ago, and whose purity is no less true today, “The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see.”
Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus as real and rosy and loving as those hearts that choose to believe — just as there is a day, a night and a birth, that changed mankind forever.
We did not see it, but we choose to believe it.
And believing is the miracle upon which all faith lives forever.
Merry Christmas, Virginia.
Merry Christmas to us all!