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Believing is Seeing

My son is now 9.  For the last few weeks he has been coming home with stories…. “Joshua says there’s no Santa Claus.  He says it’s his mom and dad.  He even found his gifts last year…. before Christmas!”

“But we’ve seen the real Santa, right?  At Cabelas?  I mean there aren’t any real people with a real beard and rosy cheeks like he’s got, are there?  He must be the real Santa.”

When I hear his doubts, I wish there was someone wise I could refer him to like Virginia’s father did over 100 years ago.  I know we’ve all read the story of Virginia, but I was delighted when I recently read it again.  The newsman’s response conveys my sentiments so beautifully.

Eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of New York’s Sun, and the quick response was printed as an unsigned editorial Sept. 21, 1897.

“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 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.

If you you’d like to read a poignant story of my friend Janessa’s experience with her daughter and the tooth fairy… click here.  I cried when I read it… I really shouldn’t admit that, but it was just so sweet and close to home.

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4 Responses to “Believing is Seeing”

  • thank you so much for sharing this… i have 11 year old and 9 year old children…and this speaks to me… i am called virginia and i believe in fairies too x growing up and asking these questions marks a rite of passage … my eldest knows but still believes… like i do too… life is sweeter when it is full of magic x
    wishing your son more magical years of visits from Father Christmas x

  • This post brings a tear to my eye Callie. Our 9 year old daughter has asked that age old question “is Santa real?” for a few years now. She too has friends and cousins that can’t wait to squelch that dream/hope she has in her heart. We love that quote in Tim Allen’s Santa Clause movie- “believing is seeing” and every year we have to assure her “he’s in your heart. If you believe in giving, loving, sharing with those around you, then absolutely YES Santa is real!” In our home, Santa plays a very small part of the true meaning of Christmas, but that Jolly Old Elf brings joy to the young at heart no matter the age!

  • Julia:

    What a beautiful beautiful story of Virginia!!! The most heartwarming gorgeous thing I’ve read in a while. Had never heard that story before – so thank you SOOOO much for sharing. Am saving it forever!

  • Pam:

    I saw Santa today. He was dressed in a red striped polo shirt, red shorts, and a red Fedora hat. He looked very dapper indeed. Can you tell I live in the south?

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