This will appear in The Gazette, Farmerville, Louisiana, USA week of 12/8

Last week end I took my five year old granddaughter to Hot Springs to see the Christmas lights and enjoy the wonderment of the season. I was heartened as I drove past our courthouse and saw a lighted display of the Holy Nativity. A huge light display at the Oil and Brine Museum in Smackover, Arkansas welcomed a small child’s fantasy while a large nativity in Chidester, Arkansas, disclosed a swing of political correctness to a position of a more traditional and truthful Christmas.

My granddaughter was awe struck as we looked down from our room at the Arlington to the brightly lit flashing Christmas lights in the park below. The foyer of the hotel was brightly adorned with a nine foot Christmas tree while a gigantic gingerbread hose made from thousands of pieces of candy welcomed a beautiful child.

I looked into the bright blue eyes of my granddaughter, eyes that were pure and innocent and saw nothing but good. I began to think of our world and the pain and suffering that surrounded us and I asked myself what the future would be for our children and if there was a correlation to the optimistic view of a child and the future of mankind. Does the spirit of Christmas really exist beyond the glitz and glamour of bright lights and carols coming from mechanical speakers. I then thought of a story that I heard long ago. The story first appeared in the New York Sun newspaper on September 1st, 1897. It was appropriate at that time and has endured the test of time to be just as appropriate today. This article follows and began with a letter to the editor.

“Is There a Santa Claus?

We take pleasure in answering at once thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of “The Sun”:

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 West Ninety-fifth street.

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 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.

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 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.”
As I looked into my granddaughters eyes I said to myself, “Yes Ava there is a Santa Clause”.
This came not in response to a question from her but in my own realization that the wonderment of Christmas comes not from light and sound but from the beauty of a child’s face.

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