Saturday, December 13, 2008

yes, Virginia

Macy's has a commercial out where a bunch of famous people like Martha Stewart and Donald Trump tell "Virginia" there is a Santa Claus and, well, it bugs the crap out of me.  
Who the heck is Virginia?  
Maybe it's common knowledge for other people, but no one I talked to knew.  
So, I googled it.  

It turns out that Virginia was an 8 year old in 1897 who wrote to The New York Sun and said, 
"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?"

Francis Pharcellus Church responded in what has become the most reprinted newspaper editorial ever:
"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 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 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, that is no sign that there is no Santa Clause.  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 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."

I still hate that Macy's commercial, but for other reasons.

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