“You 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.”
Is There a Santa Claus?, The New York Sun
The prelude to this holiday season was a tumultuous election cycle that culminated in a surprising election outcome that left many American parents, teachers and others who care passionately about protecting and prolonging the innocence of children, aghast.
For months, media outlet blared the news of non-stop threats against various segments of what has become America’s new, majority of minorities. The media also broadly reported on the how fear in the hearts of some too young to understand the complexities of an extreme candidate in a raucous electoral process as observed in the classroom and in the home.
The concerns of such children are understandable in light of such themes as the need to deport all undocumented immigrants; or force all Muslims onto a national registry; or the implementation of a national stop and frisk policy, just to name a few.
Despite these concerns, it is Christmas time, a time of hope and the magic of believing, particularly in that jolly Old man in the red suit, Santa Claus—the special provenance of children, just as it has been throughout history.
On September 21, 1897, The New York Sun published an editorial titled, “Is there a Santa Claus.” This Christmas, The Voice/Black Voice News is republishing the editorial for the holiday pleasure of our readers.
I am eight years old. Some of my 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 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 external 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 you 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 un-seeable in the world.
You 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, 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 lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
"Is There a Santa Claus?" was reprinted from the September 21, 1897, edition of The New York Sun and is dedicated to the loving memory of Dennis H. Labadie.