In 1897, a young girl named Virginia wrote a letter to The New York Sun, asking if Santa Claus did in fact exist. Newsman Francis Pharcellus Church responded with a now-famous editorial entitled “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus.” Virginia worried, since she had neither seen Santa Claus nor did she possess tangible proof of his existence, that the jolly man was not real. Francis Church reminded Virginia, and all of us, that seeing is not believing. We must first have faith and believe in the existence of Santa Claus’ spirit of generosity and love before we witness it in action. One hundred and fourteen years after the letter was printed, many of us find ourselves empathizing with little Virginia. How can things like love and generosity exist when the world seems so dark? Millions of people find themselves out of work, trying to make ends meet. Political bickering halts any hope at forward progress. Even talk of Christmas has been largely eradicated from public discourse. How could a figure as loving and generous as Santa Claus exist in such a seemingly hopeless world? Perhaps, like Virginia, we all need to be reminded once again of his existence.
Yes, America, Santa Claus does exist. He is perpetually present in the hearts and minds of compassionate Americans and his work is evident everywhere. Santa Claus embodies a spirit of love. Where would we be without love? Without love, greed, selfishness, and doubt would plunge this world into real darkness. A loveless world would be one of universally broken families, empty churches, and nonexistent charities. Is this the world we want to live in? Of course not.
For the most part, love is still present in our nation; we just need to have faith before our eyes can be opened to its presence. We can see love in the heart of a child who blinks back tears as they witness a parent return from military service overseas. Love is present in the frozen hands of Salvation Army bell-ringers, in the food that lines the shelves of homeless shelters, and in the care packages sent overseas to our fighting men and women. Those whose hearts burst unabashedly for God (i.e. Tim Tebow) in the face of insurmountable criticism are also some of the greatest possessors of love. Like the reindeer that propel Santa’s sleigh, love is the force that propels the charity and good work we see throughout the holiday season.
The love of Santa Claus is personified by the generosity of the season. True charity, not forced redistribution, is the basis for holiday giving. We can see Santa Claus in the generous spirit of an unemployed parent who scrapes together just enough money to give her children a Christmas. Santa can also be found in the actions of people who give their time and effort for the benefit of others through charity work and volunteering. Someone who embodies the spirit of Santa Claus puts an emphasis on giving and not receiving. Ponder this: Santa Claus spends the entire year preparing for a night of universal giving. What if we could grab onto this spirit of generosity more often? Perhaps then, the world would not appear such a negative place.
Therefore, America, Santa Claus is present all around us. Just because we have not seen him does not mean his spirit does not exist. Intangible things like love and generosity cannot be captured in a bottle or seen by the human eye. They must be experienced and sought out. Santa’s spirit is not something that is revealed to us at random. We must seek it out and hold tightly to it. We must believe in his spirit and act out upon his virtues so that his presence can be preserved for the entire nation. When viewing this struggling nation through a lens of negativity, it’s easy to miss his presence. Yet, if we look upon the world with an optimistic perspective, Santa Claus is all around us. First we must believe. Then we act with a heart full of love and a spirit of generosity. After that, we will be able to see the workings of Santa Claus everywhere. I will continue to believe that Francis Church was right when he told little Virginia that Santa Claus not only lives, but that his spirit will exist forever.