On September 21, 1897, an eight year old New Yoker, Virginia O’Hanlon, wrote a letter to the editor of "The Sun", a popular newspaper in New York City.
The letter she wrote was a desperate plea to continue the ability to believe in the existence of Santa Claus — the unseeable patron of love, charity and children. Newsman, Francis Pharcellus Church, quickly responded to the query with a well written piece that went beyond the existence of Santa Claus. The response gently plucked the heart strings of every man, woman and child across the nation that fateful September morning when the world awaited the response to one of the oldest questions in the world. Does he?
"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 eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished."
Although, Mr. Church’s response regarded the unseen fanciful world of a child, it also reached out to touch the heart of adults. Each year as I read the response written by Mr. Church, I find myself re-energizing an old faith in the world that most assuredly exists all around us. A world that cannot be seen, cannot be touched, cannot be verified through the faculties of our senses; it can only be felt in our hearts. The world from which love is disseminated unceasingly without regard to the human experience.
That fateful September morning over one hundred years ago still lives today. Every time the letter to the editor and the response is read, a renewed childlike faith exists without which we could not survive this world.
May the peace and blessings of the season descend upon you this holiday season.