Saturday, December 25, 1999

Yes, Virginia

"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, 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. This is another way of saying he exists in your mind, like the monster under your bed or the demon that chases you in your dreams every night. Have you seen the raggedy man muttering to himself as he wanders the swirls of snow in the cold night streets? Ask him if Santa exists. Ask him if the voices in his head exist. Then throw a brickbat in his face, run like the dickens and hope he didn’t read your address which you stupidly gave to this newspaper.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in Jesus! 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 fish out Santa's bloody, soot-covered corpse, what would that prove? It could have been the vagrant dressed as Santa, coming down the chimney to kill you! The clever scientists in their white coats have never seen Santa Claus. They have never dissected him and studied them under their microscopes -- though not for a want of trying. Santa remains unseen. This still proves nothing.

Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. Nobody sees Jesus either. Or Satan. Or the little man inside your head we call “the soul.” Or free will, true love or patriotism. The truth is, the glorious, shining universe with its many wonders is actually a heartless machine, indifferent to your suffering and death. One day, it will all run down. But the snow is so pretty on Christmas morning!

Open your eyes and see! Life is a one-way corridor getting narrower and narrower, leading to death. Who the hell wants to see that? Perhaps the muttering vagrant did. He stared into the abyss until it stared back at him. And now he is hopelessly mad! Don’t let that happen to you, VIRGINIA. Close your eyes and look inside! Ah, that’s more like it. Far better to see the pretty pictures in your head! Santa shimmying down the chimney and fairies dancing on the lawn and angels playing harps in heaven for the amusement of a bearded man on a golden throne. No one has seen these things. There’s no proof they don’t exist! Keep telling yourself that if you wish to escape the vagrant’s unhappy fate.

Santa Claus exists. Just like 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. Repeat it to yourself, over and over, and eventually you’ll believe it.

Perhaps your Mommy has some laudanum in the cupboard. Take a spoonful and you will feel better.

PS: Your little friends are idiots.