A Letter to Virginia by Carol McClelland


Note: About 120 years ago, a little girl in New York City named Virginia O’Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of a newspaper called The Sun. In her letter, Virginia told the editor that some of her friends had told her that there was no Santa Claus. She ended her letter asking the question “Is there a Santa Claus?” In his response to Virginia, a writer for the newspaper told her unequivocally that there is a Santa Claus. When the response was printed in The Sun, it was clipped out of one of the newspapers and given to Santa Claus. He has held onto the clipping all these years. Recently, Santa came across the clipping and decided to write a letter to Virginia (in truth, it’s a letter to all of us) reminding her (and us) that he’s still around and as generous as ever!

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Dear Virginia,

I was just going through a box of some old letters and documents when I came across a newspaper clipping. I’m sure you know why I kept that particular clipping from that particular newspaper. Truth be told, we don’t get newspaper delivery up here at the North Pole. One of my helpers who happens to live in New York City sent the clipping to me back when you wrote your letter to the editor of The Sun in 1897. He thought I would be appreciative of the response that you got to your question, and he was correct. I was also very happy that you asked the question that so many people, especially children, are afraid to ask.

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Before I go any further with my letter, let me assure everyone that I know you are no longer of this Earth. If you were still alive, you would be well over 100 years old! It just feels right to write this letter to you since you were the author of the original letter so many years ago.

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I’ve been around for a very long time and I’ve met a lot of people in my life. Since I’m known as the giver of gifts, I’ve also spent a fair amount of time keeping track of the behavior, both good and bad, of children around the world. What I find truly amazing is that even though many years have passed since you wrote your letter, people are basically the same. I know that things have changed tremendously over the years, but people are just people regardless of how many years pass. And, while the overwhelming majority of the people in our world are wonderful, there will always be a few who just want to do bad things and spoil everyone’s fun.

In his response to you, The Sun’s Francis Pharcellus Church basically told you that people have a hard time believing that which they cannot see. That’s still true today and will always be true. I don’t know how much you know about me, but I started giving presents away long before you were ever born. In those days, I was known by my given name, Nicholas. While growing up, I was never really interested in doing things for myself. Instead, I found great pleasure in doing things for others. I especially loved to give gifts to others without them knowing that I was the giver of the gift. Seeing the look on the faces of the recipients of my gifts has always filled me with great pleasure.

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Since I try to do all my work without being seen, people have made up stories and songs about me and what I might look like. You might be familiar with a poem written in 1822 by Clement Clarke Moore. That poem, An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas, is better known by the title, The Night Before Christmas. Mr. Moore wrote the poem for his three daughters, never intending for the poem to be published for the whole country to read. The vision that you see when you think of me is due in large part to Mr. Moore’s description of me. I won’t tell you which parts of his description of me are accurate, but I would like for you to know that my belly doesn’t shake like a bowl full of jelly when I laugh! Mrs. Claus is really good about keeping me on a healthy diet all year long.

So, I guess I’d like to remind you and all the children of the world, that I live my life to bring joy to others. I’m thankful that we have to use our faith in things unseen to help us believe. Mr. Church told you in his response to your question that you may never see me coming down your chimney, but that’s no reason not to believe. Sometimes believing in what you cannot see fills you with a sense of purpose. I’d like to hope that believing in me and my ways has caused people throughout the centuries to think less of themselves and more of others. I know that Christmas is a time when many people seek out opportunities to help others, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if that same spirit continued throughout the year?

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Well, I’ve enjoyed writing this letter to you, but duty calls. There are so many children in the world these days that the reindeer and I have to spend plenty of time pouring over neighborhood maps to make sure that we don’t skip any houses. You know what I told you about my belly and how it doesn’t shake like a bowl full of jelly when I laugh? Well, if I eat every treat left for me in every house around the world, my belly will definitely shake like a bowl full of jelly whenever I do anything, including laugh! The trick is to just take a bite or two to let the children of each house know that I really was there! By the way, sugar cookies with frosting and sprinkles are my favorite! Please feel free to share that information. ☺

Merry Christmas!
Santa Claus

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