Yes Virginia

We acknowledge that we believe it is our duty to brutally report the news events in our community.

It often means there is bad news on the doorstep, featuring a relentless diet of misbehavior by our fellow citizens.

It can be disconcerting and disheartening on a daily basis.

As difficult as it can be to read, it can be just as difficult to report and publish.

But that is how we serve you, the reader.

But on this day, Christmas Eve, we believe it is especially important to take this space we often use to criticize and chastise — and sometimes praise — our community institutions and use it for a higher purpose.

We believe it is important to devote this day to the belief there is something more important than just reporting the news.

That there is a greater good in all of us, and that even your local newspaper can have a heart from time to time.

That every once in awhile, we take on the task of nourishing our readers’ souls.

So each Christmas Eve, we reprint the Francis Pharcellus Church classic essay that was published in the New York Sun in 1897.

It is timeless.

And now a tradition in The Post-Star.

We know most of you have read it before, but we urge you to read it again, embrace it and let your children know that Santa Claus lives as an ideal in all of us.

To gives us hope.

And faith.

And a belief there is a greater good in mankind.

It’s news we don’t publish nearly enough.

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

115 W. 59th St. New York

New York Sun editorial writer Francis Pharcellus Church offered this answer to a skeptical child on Sept. 21, 1897.

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 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 life 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 supernatural 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, 10 times 10 thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Post-Star editorials represent the opinion of the Post-Star editorial board, which consists of Publisher Robert Forcey, Controller/Operations Director Brian Corcoran, Editor Ken Tingley, Projects Editor Will Doolittle and citizen representatives Dan Gealt, George Nelson and Patricia Crayford.

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