A Lesson In Innocence

One September morning in the year 1897, the editor of a New York daily newspaper called The Sun found a letter from an eight-year-old girl on his desk. The letter read:

Dear Editor:

I am eight-years-old. Some of my friends always tell me that Father Christmas does not exist. However, my father says that if The Sun says Father Christmas exists then he really does exist. Please tell me the truth: does Father Christmas really exist?


Virginia O’Hanlon

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Francis Church, the editor of The Sun, reluctantly and with much hesitation took upon himself the task of answering little Virginia’s letter. However, once he had begun, the words came readily to mind. Here is his letter:


“Virginia, your friends are wrong. They have a terrible disease which later on will bring them even greater pain. Be careful not to catch this disease. This is a disease of the soul. We adults called it incredulity, cynicism, lack of innocence. Your friends and the other people who tried to persuade you think they are wise and smart because they only admit as real that which they can see with their eyes and touch with their hands. But, they do not realise how much they are limiting themselves!


Little Virginia, imagine the whole of this immense globe with its lakes and mountains, with its rivers and seas, and, hovering over our heads, the infinite heavens with its thousands of stars. Imagine how many species of animals exist in the sea, in the air and on the land. Man is only one among thousands of beings, and how small we are! In face of the immense universe, man is but a fly or an ant. How then can man see everything that exists or with his limited understanding try to explain everything?
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Yes, Virginia, Father Christmas exists! He exists just as much as tenderness and joy exist, or as love and goodness exist, even though we cannot see these things with our eyes and touch them with our hands. You yourself have felt these things. And don’t they bring beauty and joy into your life?


Oh, how sad the world would be without Father Christmas! It would be as sad as a world without Virginias, without fairy tales, the angels, songs, children’s stories written by the poets. Or, on the contrary, imagine a world where no one ever became enchanted with anything or never smiled! We then would all be lost. And that eternal light, that never extinguishes, with which children light up the world and accompanies every child that is born, would be extinguished forever.


Not to believe in Father Christmas?! Then no one would need to believe in fairies and angels. You could convince your father to put watchmen by every chimney on Christmas Eve so he could grab Father Christmas. What would be proven if they did not see him coming down the chimney? Nobody sees Father Christmas! But this does not prove that he does not exist. The things in this world that are really for real neither children nor adults can see. Have you ever seen a fairy dance in the flowery meadows? Just because you have not seen them does not prove that they don’t dance in the flowery meadow. No one can understand all the invisible marvels of the universe.


You can disassemble a rattle in order to see how the sound of the little stones is produced. But there is a veil hiding the invisible world that nobody, not even the strongest man or the strength of the whole world, can push aside. Only faith and charity can raise this veil a little bit and thus be able to contemplate the beauty and splendour hidden behind.

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Is this reality? Oh, Virginia, on earth there is nothing more real or truer than this! Thanks be to God, Father Christmas lives and will live forever! For the next thousand years—oh! little Virginia—for the next ten thousand years multiplied by a thousand years, Father Christmas will continue to live in the pure hearts of children that are filled with joy and that beat with increased excitement on Christmas Day!”