Preface: All this month I gave a lot of thought to writing the “Great American Christmas Story”. I began more drafts than I can count and deleted them all; I just wasn’t feeling it. When my grandchildren began asking if Santa was real, I remembered the true story of an 8-year-old girl named Virginia O’Hanlon who wrote a letter to her local newspaper asking that very question. The newspaper’s editor, Francis Pharcellus Church, felt compelled to respond to Virginia’s letter in the form of a feature article. His ‘letter’ to Virginia contains an amazing message, a poignant gift to share with young and old alike. It’s an inspiring response and truly makes one stop, think and assess what’s important in life.
I realized that’s exactly what I wanted to convey in my story but Mr. Church beat me to it and in a much more eloquent way.
I hope during this holiday season you’ve had a chance to reflect on some cherished Christmas memories. There are so many magical moments during Christmas that really do make it the most wonderful time of the year. Isn’t it a pity the special and unique love we feel for one another during Christmas starts to evaporate shortly after the holidays?
Life is often not fair nor is it easy. There’s a lot of discord in the world, too much hatred, unhappiness and suffering. Sometimes just putting one foot in front of the other can be a monumental task, especially after the last two years. We need something to cling to, to believe in and to help us remember what Christmas was like when we were 8-years-old.
I hope you find Mr. Church’s response to Virginia’s question enlightening, captivating and heartwarming. This is how it appeared in The New York Sun on September 21, 1897; I think you’ll agree it’s as appropriate and meaningful today as it was 124 years ago.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!
NAR © 2021