In December of 1897, sad little Virgnia O'Hanlon wrote to The New York Sun as follows:
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?
To which chief editor Francis P. Church replied with a now very famous editorial called, "Yes Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus". In the spirit of the season, I will reproduce that editorial here, with some of my own comments to little Miss O'Hanlon interspersed:
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.
Virginia, your letter wound-up on the desk of a gouty old fart who was desperately nostalgic for The Good Old Days which, believe me, existed only in his mind. He thinks kids back in 1897 were bad? You should see 'em now! A more useless gang of pimple face pukes has never afflicted the surface of the planet! They've got green hair, rings through their noses, and they shave their chests and carry 9 mms and smoke crack cocaine! Frankly, you and Mr. Church had it easy! He should quit bitching.
Also, Mr. Church works for The Sun, so he's what your father would probably have called a soak, and what in my day we call a lush bucket. This piece of drivel probably got hacked out between bottles of cheap whiskey. Rot-gut liquor has been the cause of more bad rhetoric than War and Love combined.
And furthermore, what is this "intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth" supposed to be? Looks like your dear editor was using his newspaper to proselytize some version of the Christian Religion at you. These days things that wouldn't fly. A word to the Feds and we could have God-Boy's ass fired so hard out the door that he wouldn't land until next Xmas.
Anyway, Mr. Church keeps on editorializing:
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 external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
What are these... THREATS? If Santa isn't real, Poetry will disappear? The Lights will go out? Holy shit, these days if some old guy started feeding a little girl like you such a dose of baloney, they'd slap a restraining order on him!
And what's this about there being no Virginias if kids don't believe in Santa? There wouldn't be an North or SouthVirginia in the first place if Whitey assholes like Church hadn't come ashore and slaughtered the peaceful Kis'muk'ti-tuk Indians who were already living there! And what's Santa Claus got to do with any of that, anyhow? Is Mr. Church insinuating that Santa was leading the charge against the Indian villages in his sleigh, innocent Abo kids impaled on the steel-edged antlers of his android rain-deer?
This guy kills me! But he's is just warming up:
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 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.
Kid, you've hooked a serious nutter. Believe me, you can take full pleasure in your lawn without worrying about inadvertently trampling dancing fairies. And if by any chance you do manage to squash one, I hear they're damn good eating.
But seriously, there are many unseen and unseeable things in the world, like Debt and Remorse and Poisonous Gases and cancer-causing Gamma Radiation from The Sun. However, Fairies ARE NOT AMONG THEM!
If this Church fellow has any knowledge of Fairies, its because there's one fluttering in out of that whiskey bottle he's been sucking on. Yeah, Virginia, these days we've got a word for his kind of fairies: delirious tremblins, we call 'em.
But wait...There's More!
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 man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart.
Kid, don't tear apart any baby rattles. That would be cruel. Besides, there's just this little plastic bean thing that bounces around inside making the sound. It's no big mystery. Leave your little brother's toys alone.
Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond.
Magic mushrooms do the same trick. They can also convince you that jam bands like Phish or the Grateful Dead don't suck. However, that wears off.
No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
Okay, little sister, I'll tell you how Xmas really works. Capitalist society has trained your parents to drool like Pavlov's dog at the sight of a fat guy in a red suit. So, believe The Hype or not, you're going to get piles of gifts at exactly the same time every year. Your folks can't help it, and you couldn't stop them if you wanted to.
And the gift getting part is all that should really matter, for deep down Xmas a time of getting, getting all you can when the getting's good. When you become older and start buying gifts of your own, you'll realize the truth of what I'm saying. Then you'll understand that if the total amount of money you spend on gifts is less than the total amount of the gifts you get, you've WON Xmas!
...and that is a terrific feeling. And Santa's got nothing to do with it.
PS. Last post for a couple of days. If I haven't turned you against Xmas by now than there's no hope for you, and so you might as well have a not totally awful holiday!