Thursday

Clap Loudly If You Believe

In 1897 eight-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon's friends pooh-poohed her belief in Santa Claus. So she wrote to the local paper to ask if there was a Santa Claus. This is what the editor of the local paper, Francis P. Church wrote in reply:


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 grown-ups' or children's are little.


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 your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were not 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!


The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor grown-ups can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they aren't there.


You 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 grown-up that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside the curtain and view the beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing as 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.


From Sarah Ban Breathnach's Simple Abundance (Grand Central Publishing).

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