Tradition #1: Santa Claus

A Santa that I can believe in.

As a kid, you invariably get to the age when other kids no longer believe in Santa Claus, and you go and ask your parents if he is real.  I remember doing this when I was about 7 or 8 years old and my mother pulling down a book of Christmas Traditions and reading to my sister and me the story of Virginia O’Hanlon.  To this day, I still love this story, and it was one of our Christmas traditions for my mom to read it to us when we were kids.  It is more about the spirit of Christmas instead of “Is there a Santa Claus?”, but it is beautifully written and my favorite editorial of all-time.  We always have to keep in mind that we should not be “affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age.”  Over a hundred years later, Mr. Church’s words still ring true.

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. The work of veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church has since become history’s most reprinted newspaper editorial, appearing in part or whole in dozens of languages in books, movies, and other editorials, and on posters and stamps.

“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, 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.

Francis Pharcellus Church

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.

NOTE:  First of all, if you read this blog you most certainly believe in faeries.  As gay men, we’ve been called faeries for many years. And many times I have seen ” fairies dancing on the lawn” or at least in bars. And if anyone takes offense to my little endnote, well then shame on you.  If we can’t laugh at ourselves, then who the hell can we laugh at.

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces. View all posts by Joe

7 responses to “Tradition #1: Santa Claus

  • silvereagle

    Great article this morning, Joe…but we would expect no less…..and if your Santa wants to bring a gift to put under this old guy's tree, tell him to come on – I am ready to unwrap that presnet he is carrying 🙂 🙂

  • Jay M.

    I remember this, too. I was a firm believer in Santa Claus, and helped maintain that belief in our house for many years, thanks to much younger siblings!I actually feel the spirit of Christmas this year, more than in many, even with all the sadness I've dealt with, so yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus!Peace <3Jay

  • Bill Dameron

    And I am doing plenty of laughing. Thank you for the humorous articles and the tantalizing photos.

  • Dean

    I, a practicing faery, have been guilty of dancing on the lawn. We lived out in the sticks when I was a kid. Santa would ride around the neighborhood on the back of a fire truck. We would sneak a peek out of the window to see the old gent, then jump onto bed and pull the covers over our heads because, as everybody knew, Santa would only visit homes where the kids were asleep. In the morning we would find an empty milk glass and a few cookie crumbs on a plate–proof that the jolly old guy had been in our house.

  • JoeBlow

    Thanks everyone. I am enjoying sharing these holiday traditions with all of you and hearing about your traditions as well.And Dean, I think I just fell in love with you for that comment.

  • Theaterdog

    Merry Christmas Prof….dancing in the bars…had me laughing this morning.I wish you the best this season, and thank you for bringing so much joy into my home.tim

  • tamayn

    The article makes an excellent point. Where would we be without some level of suspension of disbelief? Have a Happy New Year!

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