Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus

Virginia was the daughter of Dr. Philip O’Hanlon, a coroner’s assistant on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.  In answer to her question “is there really a Santa Claus” her father suggested she write to a New York City newspaper called The Sun.

Virginia’s letter found its way to one of the paper’s editors named Francis P. Church who wrote the now famous response.   His answer to Virgina remains today as the most reprinted editorial ever to run in any English language newspaper.

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

September 21, 1897
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 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 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 unseeable 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.

Many have questioned if Virigina’s original letter actually ever existed thinking it was only fiction created by Francis Church as a basis for his editorial. However, the original letter written by Virginia O’Hanlon was authenticated in 1998 by an appraiser on the Antiques Roadshow and valued at $20,000–$30,000.

I’m grateful for the swell in my chest the little boy inside finds in reading Church’s reply to Virginia over a hundred years ago.  The spirit of Santa Claus will always be with me.

There’s more to the truth than just the facts.  ~Author Unknown

First posted here on December 19, 2011

Lots and Lots of Practice

Where would the world be without second chances?  Few things are ever accomplished as well as they could be done on the first attempt.  Painting beautiful art, sculpting a striking statue, creating a melodic song, proficiency at a profession, learning how to build a loving relationship, recovering from difficulty, living a good life….all these things take lots and lots of practice to do them well!

It is the imperfection of the world that creates the myriad of beauty within it.  The unique differences work together to create a beautiful quilt of varied color, texture, behavior and expression.  We live in a far from perfect world and without second chances you and I would not exist.  The power beyond me or Nature if you prefer to call it did not get everything just right on the first try.  It is out of failure and imperfection that fruitful creation is made.

With trial and error I have concluded the main difference between an obstacle and an opportunity is my attitude.  If I think I can’t or don’t want to, I create an obstacle.  If I think I can and want to, I create an opportunity.  As the saying goes “whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right”.

Here are a few thoughts about second, third, fourth and additional chances:

1 – Put what is behind me, behind me.  The past never goes away completely, but how much space it takes in my present is my choice. A good start to a second chance is getting past the past.  I tell myself things like “no, I am not going to think about that” or “stop it, you can’t change any of that” or “it will never make sense, so stop trying to figure it out”.  Does it work every time?  No!  But it does work better and better the more I practice it.

2 – Learn the life lesson and move on.  Repeating the same behavior and expecting different results is said to be a form of insanity.  One way I stopped some of the craziness in my life was to stop and learn what life was trying to teach me.  What good are second, third and more chances if I screw them up the same way as I did before?  If nothing else pain in great enough amounts can become a good teacher if the student is paying attention to life.  One only fails when they stop trying.

3 – Be responsible for myself.  I had to stop blaming others. When I realized that no one made me do anything, it was an eye opener.  Long I had said things like “she made me mad” or “he made me feel bad”.  In reality I choose what goes on inside me or at the very least how long a particular feeling or thought lasts is my choice.  No matter how much someone hurt me in the past, if I am still being hurt by something that happened long ago I am the culprit hurting me now.  The haze of applying responsibility to others for what I am responsible for wastes every additional chance as if it never existed.

4 – Attitude is everything.  If I go expecting bad things to happen, life will rain crap on me every day of my life.  It’s the law of attraction.  Absolutely life is difficult, but it always has been so that should be no surprise to anyone.  To the best of my ability I try to amplify the good and diminish the bad.  The more “good” I expect the more of it comes my way.

5 Know what I can change and what I can’t.  The serenity prayer says it all “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference”.   Applying a second chance to something I can’t change is akin to beating my head against the wall:  it gets me nowhere except to a headache.

6I have to know what I want.  Without knowing what I want and need in my life, my existence is like that of a ball in a pinball machine bouncing endless from bumper to bumper with no direction.  Deep down we all know what we need and want.  If I let fear of change stop me from accepting my needs, I will be destined to repeat unsatisfying behavior over and over and over.  I make lots of lists of what I think I need and want and the top stuff always emerges  given enough time.  What good are second chances if I don’t know what to do with them?

7 – Self control is critical.  If I can not get myself to do what I need to do, life can become hopeless.  I am a normal person (well, mostly) and no matter how much control I achieve, my life will always be lived in a somewhat of an out of control manner.  That is a big part of the human experience.  Yet, with trial and error, over and over, the self-control I need to make a good life has become possible.  Without the ability to direct myself a second chance withers without use.

8 – Pay little attention to what others think.  Yes, it’s hard to ignore that others have to say, especially those I care about.  However, until I learned to be true to myself and stop listening to others so much I usually wasted my additional chances in life.  There is only one way I know to change the world and that is to change me and by example inspire others to grow and change. Any new chance at something is my gift and belongs to no one but me.  I don’t give them away any more!

For all of the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth…..one hundredth, one thousandth chances life has given me I am very grateful.

Nobody can go back and start a new beginning,
but anyone can start today and make a new ending.
Maria Robinson

First posted December 15, 2011

To Laugh Often and Much

 

I found a used copy of the book pictured above a few weeks ago:  “Bedside Prayers, Prayers and Poems for When You Rise and Go to Sleep” collected by June Cotner.  It has found a convenient home on my night stand.  With decent regularity it finds its way into my hands just before lights out at night to put some meaningful thoughts to put into my head before sleep.

“Bedside Prayers” has these words of description on its dust cover:  a marvelous collection of prayers, meditations, sentiments, and quiet celebrations.  Drawing from a rich spectrum of traditions and writers – from Rainer Maria Rilke to Robert Louis Stevenson, and from Buddha to contemporary writers with fresh insights… for spiritual seekers of any tradition… a charming companion that encourages us to recognize the divine gifts all around us each day.  I find something meaningful every time I pick the book up and read a random page.

Among my favorites found in “Bedside Prayers” is thirteen lines by George Eliot that encourage me to be grateful for each day and to live with courage and intent to leave the world a little better than I find it.

May every soul that touches mine—
Be it the slightest contact—
Get from there some good;
Some little grace; one kindly thought;
One aspiration yet unfelt;
One bit of courage
For the darkening sky;
One gleam of faith
To brave the thickening ills of life;
One glimpse of brighter skies
Beyond the gathering mists—
To make this life worthwhile,
And heaven a surer heritage.

In a poem written almost a hundred years ago Ranier Maria Rilke described the power of being in the moment long before it was a popular notion.  Being aware of one’s “aliveness” is the message he left to be printed in “Bedside Prayers”.

You see, I want a lot.
Maybe I want it all:
The darkness of each endless fall,
The shimmering light of each ascent.
So many are alive who don’t seem to care.
Casual, easy, they move in the world
As though untouched.
But you take pleasure in the faces
Of those who know they thirst.
You cherish those
Who grip you for survival.
You are not dead yet, it’s not too late
To open your depths by plunging into them
And drink in the life
That reveals itself quietly there.

First time through the following eight lines by Joseph Byron seemed to be only be a play on words.  Then as I read them a second and third time it became apparent that simply changing the order of words added great meaning. I get the most from Byron when I read his forty-five word poem slowly and savor each line before moving to the next.

Feeling strong and strongly feeling.
Being glad and glad of being.
Care for need and needing caring.
Sharing self and selfless sharing.
Full of spirit, spirit filling.
Will is warm and warmly willing.
Give joy, enjoy the giving
Life is love and love is living.

Those eight lines really touch me!

There is nothing new or original in what I offer gratitude for today.  What is stated, I have written about before.  Here again is my thankfulness expressed for the work of others that touch my heart and spirit and make me think.  The canvas of an artist can have that effect on me and so can the notes of a musician.  A script well acted can move me deeply as can the words of a writer, but few things touch me as quickly or as profoundly as a well written poem.

Maybe I am old-fashioned. Maybe my soul has remnants within of the Victorian Era.  Or maybe I feel deeply which allows my sensitive self to receive in great dimension the feelings, thoughts and sentiments in poetry.  Whatever the reason may be, my gratitude is deep for the writers who put pieces of themself into measured word for me to discover, for my ability to feel what the poets left behind and for books like June Cotner’s “Bedside Prayers” that bring poetry into my life.

To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people
And the affection of children;
Earn the appreciation of honest critics
And endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty,
To find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better,
Whether by a healthy child,
A garden patch,
Or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier
Because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.
This old favorite by Ralph Waldo Emerson is included in “Bedside Prayers”

Originally Posted on November 30, 2011

What You Think of Me is None of My Business

I dont care anymore tumblr_mksi38RmIN1s2ajc4o1_400_large

When considered all together, getting older is a good balance of what I am glad about and what I sometimes wish were no so.  Of course, having more of the hair I used to have or a back that does not ache after working in the yard or to not need reading glasses are good examples of what’s on the “I wish were not so list”.  Moving to the “I’m glad about list” immediately I find gratitude for knowledge not possible in younger years that has come from a broad range of life experience.  I cherish the wisdom earned the hard way mostly from my mistakes.

One of the gems of wisdom I am grateful for is summed up in the words of Wayne Dyer:  What you think of me is none of my business.  No magic immunity from such thinking have I learned, but what others think of me plainly matters much less here in the fifth decade of my life than ever before.  Bosses I work for don’t make me nervous any more (does it have anything to do with the fact that most are younger and less experienced than me?)  Dressing nicely still matters, but comfort in what I have on is at the top of my list and matters ten times more than what others think of my wardrobe.

A good deal of personal growth is evident to anyone who has long known me.  However, inwardly there remains speculation from time to time if I measure up in other people eyes.  An often successful method I use to combat such “stinking thinking” is to self-question with this thought:  How would I feel if I was literally unable to worry about another person’s opinion of me?  Getting some sort of silent mental answer in response to that quandary seems to banish the need to care what others think more often than not.

Deep down I know I don’t need the approval of others. It is my ego, the fragile little pretend person within, that craves approval and fears disapproval. Even with the wisdom of years my mind will take things personally sometimes if I let it.  The need to attempt to gain power through approval and disapproval games will always be there. Here in middle age I am grateful to be able to separate myself from my ego more successfully and know approval and disapproval have no real value whatsoever.  In reality, another person’s thought or opinion about me is never personal, because it is never really about me in the first place. It’s about them. A person’s thoughts about anything and everything are only about them self.

Writer Byron Katie has written several self-help books that have been insightful to me.  She says my business is what I think and what I feel.  If I get worried about how someone feels about me, I’m in their business. And if I’m busy living in their business, how am I present for my own business?  A helpful process Katie recommends to throw off untrue thoughts she calls “Inquiry”.  This process I have found helpful includes four questions to ask one’s self:
1. Is it true?
2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
3. How do you react when you think that thought?
4. Who would you be without the thought?

The most intimate relationship I have is the one with my own mind.  When that chatterbox in my head is stressing and screaming, I find that it will keep on doing it until I give it some attention.  That sort of thinking is like a toddler in a grocery store pitching a fit until it gets attention.  One way I give that attention is  putting my thoughts through Byron Katie’s four questions.  When I truly question their validity it’s common to find beliefs I have had for 5, 10, 30 years, even the worst, most stressful ones, disappear with regularity.  Then the “monkey mind chatterbox” (my brain) slows down and living becomes easier and life tastes better.

When I can consider things objectively I see the most others can have of me is an opinion.  When thinking clearly I know to elevate another’s opinion of me to the status of a judgment is simply ridiculous. No one can judge me unless I grant him or her the power of being my judge.

When I let go of worry over other people’s opinions, I become free to reflect on my own opinion of myself. Living according to my own truth is an act of self-love and self-care. When I live according to my own beliefs and stay in my own  business (and out of other’s business), I find others usually will honor the truths I live by, whether they agree with me or not.  To know that tidbit of wisdom is a gift I’m grateful for.

I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody. Bill Cosby

Originally posted on December 7, 2011

No One Gets Too Much Love

Keep-Love-Alive-neon-small

The loneliest days are the ones where you keep company with someone you love who can’t hear you. Holly Robinson

It’s become a quirk of mine to watch couples and how the two interact. What I see all too often saddens me. Many hardly interact at all. Watching a middle-aged couple in a restaurant recently words like indifference, boredom, faded love, apathy and even coldness came to mind. Wedding bands said they were likely passionately in love once upon a time, but apathy and inattention looked to have taken their toll.

…no eye contact…

…no talking…

…no touching…

…no stolen kisses…

…no smiles…

…no eye contact…

…sitting without a word spoken…

…feeling numb…

…feeling lost…

…feeling alone together…

Life is hard. Love is harder. Both are highly worth what it takes to live them well. What I learned with experience is all love is priceless, but amazingly simple to lose. The type that causes two people to want to make a life together is among the most precious. It is also love lost the easiest.

Loving and losing is the classroom where the value of love is taught. My living regrets have over time morphed into hard learned knowledge I am grateful for. No one gets too much love. Most of us barely get enough to get by. If two people truly love each other there should be no restraint in its expression to keep love alive. Love is a fire that must be fueled continually to stay strong and lasting.

Indifference and neglect
often do much more damage
than outright dislike.
J.K. Rowling,

Where Wisdom Grows

School of hard knocks EDIT

Misfortunes make us wise.
Mary Norton

I learned a lesson yesterday, taught a few times before but without me getting a passing grade. Like a child held back in school, it took repetition for the insight to sink in. It does not matter what the particulars are of what I learned. The jewel of knowledge that sparkles within now, came with a great deal of pain and difficulty; the ground and fertilizer where wisdom grows.

The best teachers have showed me that things have to be done bit by bit. Nothing that means anything happens quickly–we only think it does. The motion of drawing back a bow and sending an arrow straight into a target takes only a split second, but it is a skill many years in the making. So it is with a life, anyone’s life. I may list things that might be described as my accomplishments in these few pages, but they are only shadows of the larger truth, fragments separated from the whole cycle of becoming. Joseph Bruchac

When we search for “ourselves” in the eyes of others, we have imprisoned our own-selves in believing that our self-worth is nothing unless others validate who we are. Unless we approve of whom we are, what we are, and what we are capable of doing as an individual, only then we will have released “ourselves” from our own imprisonment. D. A. Isley

The names of my best teachers are Grief, Pain and Heartache along with their half-brothers Hurt, Sorrow and Anguish and their half sisters Misery, Sadness and Despair. In hopelessness, misfortune and depression each has been my hard, but honored teacher. When I get tired of repeating the same mistake and falling into the same dysfunction those instructors of the “hard way” school show me the best path when I let them.

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding. Kahlil Gibran

If only I could have stronger belief in my abilities; show greater self forgiveness; and love myself more. Then most anything would be possible. Gratefully, I can, I will and I shall so that I might.

Experience is the hardest
kind of teacher. It gives
you the test first, and
the lesson afterward.
Oscar Wilde

Food for Thought

antidepressant-facts-400x400It has been no secret on this blog that I deal with cycling depression that comes around for two or three days about every six weeks. Though counseling I have learned to mostly just let it pass through me like “wind through the trees”. The depression comes, shakes me a bit and passes. For years now I have taken the prescription antidepressant Wellbutrin/Bupropion. While I don’t necessarily agree with the material I have placed here today, I don’t disagree with it either. Simply it makes me want to know more.

Depression is not caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, and it is not cured by medication. Depression may not even be an illness at all. Often, it can be a normal reaction to abnormal situations. Poverty, unemployment, and the loss of loved ones can make people depressed, and these social and situational causes of depression cannot be changed by drugs.

Our analyses of the FDA data showed relatively little difference between the effects of antidepressants and the effects of placebos. Indeed, the effects were so small that they did not qualify as clinically significant. The drug companies knew how small the effect of their medications were compared to placebos, and so did the FDA and other regulatory agencies. The companies found various ways to make the data seem more favorable to their products, and the FDA helped them keep their negative data secret. In fact, in some instances, the FDA urged the companies to keep negative data hidden, even when the companies wanted to reveal them. My colleagues and I hadn’t really discovered anything new. We had merely revealed their ‘dirty little secret’.”

In 2004, the FDA urged drug companies to adopt a ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy with respect to their clinical-trial data showing that antidepressants are not better than placebos for depressed children. If the data were made public, they cautioned, it might lead doctors to not prescribe antidepressants.

Psychotherapy works for the treatment of depression, and the benefits are substantial. In head-to-head comparisons, in which the short-term effects of psychotherapy and antidepressants are pitted against each other, psychotherapy works as well as medication. This is true regardless of how depressed the person is to begin with.

Psychotherapy looks even better when its long-term effectiveness is assessed. Formerly depressed patients are far more likely to relapse and become depressed again after treatment with antidepressants than they are after psychotherapy. As a result, psychotherapy is significantly more effective than medication when measured some time after treatment has ended, and the more time that has passed since the end of treatment, the larger the difference between drugs and psychotherapy.

When people recover from depression via psychotherapy, their attributions about recovery are likely to be different than those of people who have been treated with medication. Psychotherapy is a learning experience. Improvement is not produced by an external substance, but by changes within the person. It is like learning to read, write or ride a bicycle. Once you have learned, the skills stays with you. Furthermore, part of what a person might learn in therapy is to expect downturns in mood and to interpret them as a normal part of their life, rather than as an indication of an underlying disorder. This understanding, along with the skills that the person has learned for coping with negative moods and situations, can help to prevent a depressive relapse.

Depression is a serious problem, but drugs are not the answer. In the long run, psychotherapy is both cheaper and more effective, even for very serious levels of depression. Physical exercise and self-help books based on CBT can also be useful, either alone or in combination with therapy. Reducing social and economic inequality would also reduce the incidence of depression. From “The Emperor’s New Drugs: Exploding the Antidepressant Myth” by Irving Kirsch

I am grateful for this food for thought came into my path. It deserves a good bit of further exploration. Maybe it is time I stood on my “own two legs” without being propped up by a pill. Then again, maybe without it I’d end up back in the ‘darkness’. From people I known there is a personal conviction that antidepressants really do help some, but don’t help others at all (sometimes doing some harm). For now, lots more research to do before I reach any conclusions for myself.

The truth will set you free,
but first it will piss you off.
Gloria Steinem

Peacefulness Within

Christmas-Presents-dIt’s Christmas Eve and I feel genuinely happy for the second year in a row. Little outside of me has changed. I still have my share of issues, troubles and things to sort out. However, what is inside me has grown to be mostly mellow and calm. There is a peacefulness within that allows me to be more fully present in the moment than ever before. And that is the gift I am most grateful for.

Love Was Born at Christmas

It has been a lot of years since I can remember having the spirit of Christmas alive and frolicking within as I do this year. It could easily be true I have never been this happy at this time of year.  The little boy who lives inside me is enjoying reports of Santa’s progress in my direction.  The grownup within is dazzled by the feeling inside that sparkles and shines brightly like the lights of the season.  My eyes see Christmas. My ears hear the music.  My mouth tastes the food.  My nose smells the trees.  My touch feels bows and wrapping paper.  My heart is soft and childlike, yet touched deeply in mature ways.  Santa is coming.  Christ-mas is near.   

Eva K. Logue
A Christmas candle is a lovely thing;
It makes no noise at all,
But softly gives itself away;
While quite unselfish, it grows small.

Emily Matthews
From home to home, and heart to heart, from one place to another
The warmth and joy of Christmas, brings us closer to each other.

Christina Rossetti
Love came down at Christmas;
Love all lovely, love divine;
Love was born at Christmas,
Stars and angels gave the sign.

Phillips Brooks
The earth has grown old with its burden of care
But at Christmas it always is young,
The heart of the jewel burns lustrous and fair
And its soul full of music breaks the air,
When the song of angels is sung.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on Earth, good will to men!

Helen Lowrie Marshall
The merry family gatherings –
The old, the very young;
The strangely lovely way they
Harmonize in carols sung.
For Christmas is tradition time
Traditions that recall
The precious memories down the years,
The sameness of them all.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox
When Christmas bells are swinging above the fields of snow,
We hear sweet voices ringing from lands of long ago,
And etched on vacant places
Are half-forgotten faces
Of friends we used to cherish,
And loves we used to know. 

Calvin Coolidge
Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind.
To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.

Augusta E. Rundel
Christmas… that magic blanket that wraps itself about us, that something so intangible that it is like a fragrance.
It may weave a spell of nostalgia. Christmas may be a day of feasting, or of prayer, but always it will be a day of remembrance — a day in which we think of everything we have ever loved.

If only for a day, the world will be just a little safer, a little more peaceful and life will arrive with a little more kindness.  Even the bad guys and criminals are not quite as busy on Christmas.  For every gift ever received I am grateful.  For every hardship and lack that taught to appreciate them I am even more thankful. Merry Christmas!

Were I a philosopher, I should write a philosophy of toys,
showing that no thing else in life need to be taken seriously,
and that Christmas Day in the company of children
is one of the few occasions on which men become entirely alive
Robert Lynd

Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus

Originally Posted here one year ago on December 19, 2011

Virginia was the daughter of Dr. Philip O’Hanlon, a coroner’s assistant on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.  In answer to her question “is there really a Santa Claus” her father suggested she write to a New York City newspaper called The Sun.

Virginia’s letter found its way to one of the paper’s editors named Francis P. Church who wrote the now famous response.   His answer to Virgina remains today as the most reprinted editorial ever to run in any English language newspaper.

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

September 21, 1897
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 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 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 unseeable 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.

Many have questioned if Virigina’s original letter actually ever existed thinking it was only fiction created by Francis Church as a basis for his editorial. However, the original letter written by Virginia O’Hanlon was authenticated in 1998 by an appraiser on the Antiques Roadshow and valued at $20,000–$30,000.

I’m grateful for the swell in my chest the little boy inside finds in reading Church’s reply to Virginia over a hundred years ago.  The spirit of Santa Claus will always be with me.

There’s more to the truth than just the facts.  ~Author Unknown