Last year at this time, I talked about our Christmas traditions, and how important reading is to me and Jim as part of those traditions. But, a new friend asked me recently what we do for Christmas. In answer, I'm reprinting last year's blog entry, because it's special to me. I hope your holiday traditions are just as special to you. And, I hope you find time in the hustle and bustle of the holidays to find a little time for reading.
Do you have Christmas traditions that are special to just you and your family? Jim and I have lived away from family for almost twenty-four years, so we've made our own Christmas customs. For the ten years my father-in-law, Harry, lived with us, we shared those special moments with him.
Jim's family always celebrated on Christmas Eve, and, depending on my father's work schedule, we sometimes did. So, we open presents on Christmas Eve. I make appetizers, and about 7 p.m. or so, we start our celebration. But, before ever opening presents, we start with readings. What is more appropriate for two people who met and married in a library? Jim always reads the Nativity story from the Bible. I read, and cry over, The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry. And, Jim reads a special letter that combines faith, and hope, and magic. On Christmas Eve, I'll share one of our traditions with you, my friends from my blog. Here is "Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus."
Eight-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of New York's Sun, and the response was printed as an unsigned editorial Sept. 21, 1897. The work of veteran newsman Francis P. Church is the most reprinted newspaper editorial in history, appearing in dozens of languages in books, movies, and other editorials.
"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?
"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.