Yes, Virginia, It is Christmastime

Winter has arrived early. Not that that is such an unusual occurrence, we’ve had snow as early as October, maybe even September. Still, according to the calendar, there’s still 11 days until the official start of winter.

And 15 days until Christmas.

So far it’s snowed nearly every day since last Saturday’s snow/sleet/freezing rain storm. We have a nice blanket of the fluffy white stuff all over the place.

Now if only it’ll stay cold enough for it to be here for Christmas.

There is nothing better than a white Christmas. It seems to be rarer and rarer these days. We get snow, but then a week before Christmas the weather warms up and everything melts.

I can’t remember the last time we had an official white Christmas. Granted a lot of that is a product of my awful memory, but most of it is the simple fact that we have such chaotic weather patterns here. One factor is the “lake effect” we get from Lake Michigan. Another is something someone termed the “Milwaukee Bubble.” Its this mystical, magical shell protecting our city from all sorts of strange weather that will hit the rest of the state and Illinois. It’s as if there is a bubble over our city and the really nasty weather goes north of us or south of us and always seems to miss us.

Oh, not to say we never get bad weather, we do, but a lot of it does seem to go right around us. I’ve lived here all my life and although Wisconsin is at the end of “tornado alley,” I can’t recall a severe tornado ever hitting our fair city.

Oh, we get wind shears and micro bursts and things like that, but honestly, I can’t recall anyone ever tracking an honest-to-goodness twister in the city proper.

But enough of that. I’m here to discuss a white Christmas of which I’m dreaming, the kind I used to know, where the treetops glistened, but we never listened to sleigh bells because we live in the city remember?

Christmas is coming (the goose is getting fat…) and with it comes all the wonderful memories and emotions related to the season.

Memories of childhood wonderment, believing in that Jolly Fat Elf, of Christmas mornings waking up to find presents having magically appeared under the tree.

The beauty of downtown decorated with green wreaths and red bows and bright lights. Driving around town looking at all the colorfully decorated houses.

Beautiful music fills the air and people are quicker with a smile and a cheerful hello than the rest of the year.

And with all that, allow me to present what I consider one of the greatest pieces ever written on the meaning of Christmas and Santa Claus, the “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus” editorial.

So get a cup of your favorite Christmas wassail, sit back in your favorite easy chair, and enjoy. Unless, of course, you don’t have a laptop, then just sit in your desk chair and read.

The following editorial was printed in the September 21, 1897 issue of the New York Sun. Though the editorial was unsigned, it is now accepted that it was written by Francis Pharcellus Church and is probably history’s most reprinted newspaper editorial.

“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 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 he 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.

-30-

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3 thoughts on “Yes, Virginia, It is Christmastime

  1. My favorite part is what they never tell you – what happened when Virginia read the article:

    DADDY! Daddy! The newspaper said that there IS a Santa Clause, and he makes Fairies stand outside in the lawn and break baby rattles!

    😀

  2. I like to think that her life was enriched and she lived a long full life understanding that there’s more to reality than what can be seen or felt.

    Maybe she grew up to be a writer or a teacher or somehow inspired others to look at life in wide wonderment.

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