Partial reprint from the Nov-Dec 2005 Saturday Evening Post

The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see.

Virginia O’Hanlon (Douglas), born in 1890, earned a master’s degree from Columbia University and a doctorate from Fordham, and had a distinguished career as a teacher and administrator of the New York City school system. But, she is best known as the little girl who wrote a letter asking about Santa Claus.

Years later she recalled, “I asked my father, and he was a little evasive about the subject.

“It was a habit in our family that whenever any doubts came up as to how to pronounce a word, or some question of historical fact was in doubt, we wrote to the Question and Answer column of the New York Sun. Father would always say, ‘If you see it in the Sun, its so,” and that settled the matter.

“Well, I am just going to write to the Sun and find out the real truth, I said to my father.”

Francis Pharcellus Church, who wrote the editorial, was a Civil War correspondent for the New York Times before he joined the Sun as a writer specializing in theological and controversial subjects.

Mr. Church died in 1906.
The New York Sun died in 1950.
Mrs. Douglas died in 1971 at age 81.
But little Virginia, her letter and the answer she received will live forever in America’s heart:>

Dear Editor:
I am 8 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? - Virginia O’Hanlon

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 nothing can be that 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 they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there was no Santa Claus!

It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginia. There would be no child-like faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We would have no enjoyment except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Clause? You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch 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.

No Santa Clause? 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. - Francis P. Church