Its late but still worth it…yes Virginia there is a Santa Claus

December 26, 2018 |

It is an annual tradition which strays from legal analysis and commentary on this page; posting the wonderful piece, Yes Virginia there is a Santa Claus to brighten up my invariably grey offerings.  I publish it every year, invariably before Christmas (my bad this year).  I publish it because it is, first, wonderful prose.  Crisp, short sentences that get straight to the theme and avoids mawkish sentimentality.  Second, like all good writing, it speaks a truth.  It proudly and unequivocally rejoices in optimism and speaks out against a cynicism (though the piece describes it as a skepticism) which is an ill that hurts the psyche and harms communities.   Third, it is short.  It says what it wants to say as economically as possible and then stops.  Modern commentators are masters of bloviation and repetition. They should read this prose, as well as offerings of Orwell and Waugh to relearn, or sometimes even learn, how to write.

To write as well as Francis Pharcellus Church, the editorial writer at the New York Sun, would be a wonderful achievement.

It has held up very well over the years.

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 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.

For some background the Washington Post’s ‘Is there a Santa Claus?’: How a child’s letter inspired the classic ‘Yes, Virginia’ response.

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