I wrote this piece five years ago. It is showing its age with the WMD reference (And no talk of iPads!), but the gist of it was simple enough: To draw some perspective on a world that Francis Pharcellus Church would no doubt hardly recognize. The contrast was not meant as a deconstruction of belief, but rather, to imagine how a hundred years worth of progress might work on the spirit of innocence.
Church penned the famous “Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” letter to eight year old Virginia O’ Hanlon, which appeared in the New York Sun in September of 1897. It’s a paradigm for editorial consent, and not a superfluous one. At least as far as I’m concerned.
Anyway, this is what it might have looked like in September of 2006.
Your little friends are right. They are the glorious progeny of a pragmatic generation. They understand the value of status and deride the notion of some antiquated alms-giver delivering unto them their precious iPods. They do not believe except they see. A valuable commodity in this day and age; and one I would advise you to obtain. Their minds may be small, but their ability to filter out the ridiculous notion of a jolly old man bearing gifts is commendable. Indeed, they dare not marginalize the corporate benefactors that are their parents by spewing folly about Santa.
No Virginia, there is no Santa Claus. He does not exist as certainly as faith, hope and WMD’s do not exist. Alas! How dreary would the world be if there truly was a Santa Claus! His existence would rob us our autonomy; our secular gifted right to seek truth and define our uncertain world rather than color it with vagaries. Be warned, to subscribe to such a childlike faith is dangerous, one might even say prohibitive. Its nexus is borne of outdated American literature and ecclesiastical dogma. We should expect no enjoyment except in tangible form. Leave the childlike enabling to Hollywood producers.
I urge you dear girl, do not believe in Santa Claus! Just as you do not believe in fairies or honest politicians. You might contract with a privately owned security company to verify the hard wrought, commercialized fancy of red suits and magical sleigh bells. But imagine the cost of such an endeavor! And to what end? To simply disprove what is already common knowledge? Your sole discovery will lie in the fact that chimney sweepers are vastly overpaid. You will find no sign of Santa Claus. And then you will understand that the most real things in this world are those which you can wear, play and drive. Imagine how inefficient a world it would be if we gave credence to the unseen; think of the abject ignorance which would predominate our lives if we believed in miracles rather than science.
You dissect a nursery rhyme and you can see why non-fiction sates the publishing houses bottom line- Because there is no unseen world where fiction holds dominion. Neither the wealthiest philanthropist, nor even the bi-lateral thrust of a UN led invasion can unearth a place that does not exist. Let the evangelists proselytize about some supernal place; let the vagabond poets abscond to their sacred patch of merry. Resist the temptation to be led to Shangri La. Is any of it real? Um, Virginia, of course not.
No Santa Claus! Thank goodness for that! Do not fret, nothing lasts forever- except for disposable diapers and Dick Clark. This vicious rumor which has scarred so many children and resulted in an incalculable number of therapy sessions will see its end. Ten years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10 years from now, when the world becomes an uninhabitable swamp thanks to global warming, there will be no Santa to fool our hearts and remind us of our dysfunctional childhood.