Few names are as prominent in U.S. newspaper history as that of Virginia O’Hanlon. She was the precocious 8-year-old who wrote to the New York Sun in late 1897, questioning whether there was really a Santa Claus. A Sun editorial writer penned a reply with its now-famous line: “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”
“He exists,” the editorial continued, “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.”
The real Virginia O’Hanlon died on May 13, 1971. However, her question continues to challenge and inspire newspaper editorial writers everywhere. And so we offer contemporary answers to queries in the spirit of Virginia’s:
Editor: Adults from the White House to the school house are dissing kids for high rates of child obesity. They’ve snatched our Snickers, hijacked our Happy Meals and forced us to eat veggies instead. But Santa gets a pass!? Hey, what gives? — Taneeka
Taneeka, the jolly fat man has been getting an earful on this matter. His doctor has him on a strict diet. Mrs. Claus has conspired with his elves to hide every cookie, cake and goodie at the North Pole. Even the Big Rock Candy Mountain is off-limits.
The problem is, virtually all graphic renderings of Santa continue to present an old fiction. The real Santa is indeed a man of great girth — 300 pounds or more. Were he still lugging that weight, he would have heart issues aplenty.
Rest assured, though. Santa is slimming down and modeling good nutrition these days, though it’s difficult after centuries of goodies. Our advice: Set out a plate of munchy celery stalks and carrot sticks on Christmas Eve. Santa knows very well what is good for him and what is not. — The editor.
Editor: My dad’s a Wall Street banker. I’ve been watching the Occupy Wall Street protests on TV. Would Santa leave a lump of coal under the tree for me? I’d understand. — Sean
Sean, your question touches an immutable law of justice, one that Santa believes with all his heart: Children should not be held accountable for the actions of their parents. So, it is a bit like the old song has it: Santa “knows when you’ve been good or bad, so be good for goodness’ sake.” The only lump of coal you ever need to fear is the one you earn yourself. We have every confidence that Santa has fine presents for you … and all other children. — The editor.
Editor: Does Santa Claus issue permits to the people who ring bells at a Salvation Army Christmas kettle? — Ella
Ella, city officials usually require permits for all who solicit on public property, for there are many scam artists around. Likewise, malls and retail stores have the right to allow or disallow bell-ringers on their own premises. But in Santa’s mind, no one — least of all the Salvation Army — needs a permit to do good. That goes for children as well. So do good with Santa’s blessing — as much as you ever find it in your heart to do. — The editor.
— THE JACKSON CITIZEN PATRIOT