Now before you start wondering if I’ve lost track of the calendar, let me tell you that I haven’t. This, in fact, isn’t even my posting day, but I read an article this morning about this that I had to share.
Today is the anniversary of the famous–and most widely reprinted–editorial, Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, that appeared in the New York Sun in 1897. Francis Church, who had been a civil war correspondent, was assigned to respond to Virginia O’Hanlon’s letter requesting the truth about the gift-bearing, jelly-bellied icon. Church, taking a philosophical viewpoint, responded that there was a Santa Claus, citing the need for his kind of hope, faith and kindness in our world.
“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…”
Regardless of personal beliefs, I think Church’s message is still a true one, and I think he was pretty unboxed at the time to say what he did. This is also a good example of something Michael Hauge spoke of in his interview with WU: deeply touch the emotions of the reader and you’ll have yourself a memorable piece of work and a real winner (did you know the Virginia/Santa concept was later expanded and made into a movie?).