Originally created 12/24/01

'Yes, Virginia ...'



Traditionally it had been the Augusta Herald's custom at this time of the year to reproduce an editorial that appeared in the old New York Sun in 1897, and which has been handed down as a journalistic classic. The author was Francis Pharcellus Church, but it was not until his death in 1906 that the Sun revealed that the editorial came from his pen.

Church himself viewed it as merely a friendly reply to a little girl's query concerning Santa Claus, with never a thought that it would become immortal and that fathers and mothers the world over would look for his editorial at Christmastime to read to their children.

This yuletide The Augusta Chronicle continues the annual reproduction of this famous editorial.

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

15 West 95th St.

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.

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 Virginias. There would be no child-like faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We would have no enjoyment, except in the 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 nor imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

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 men, not even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance can push aside the curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. It is all true. Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding!

No Santa Claus! Thank God he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10 thousand years to come, he will come to make glad the heart of childhood.