December 24, 2014
It's been 117 years since Virginia O'Hanlon sought the truth about Santa from the New York Sun.
In over a century, the lives of children — and their parents—have increased in complexity by a factor of ten.
Man landed on the moon, communism rose and fell, countries changed names and borders, Elvis begat Jagger, who in turn led to "gangsta rap". The kidnap and murder of children, which made world headlines for the Lindbergh family, now touches the lives of hundreds of families annually. Children begin learning at ages two and three about "stranger danger," AIDS and sexual abuse.
The age of innocence is gone.
But that doesn't mean that Virginia O'Hanlon's innocent question to an anonymous editor is irrelevant in today's world. Far from it.
Today, more than ever, we all need to be reminded of the good that dwells in even the meanest spirit, of the hope that fires our most ambitious dreams. That, yes, there is a Santa Claus, and he lives in all our hearts.
So here, as a Christmas gift to us all, is Francis Pharcellus Church's editorial response to Virginia, first printed in The New York Sun on Sept. 21, 1897. Merry Christmas.
"We take pleasure in an-swering at once and 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:
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.'