Yes, Virginia, Christmas is Alive and Well!

December 25, 2013

Dear Editor,

116 years ago I wrote you with a simple question:  “Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?” 

 As an 8 year old little girl I was thrilled you thought my letter worthy of response.  (And by the number of times I’ve seen it reprinted over the years I wasn’t the only one thrilled.)

 I come to you now, over a century later, as a grown spirit seeking your guidance once more:  Please sir, tell me the truth, Who killed Christmas?

 Virginia O’Hanlan

777 North Avenue of the Stars


 As you know, Mr. Church, the responder to your first inquiry, long ago left the paper but in his spirit, I shall attempt to answer your second as best I can.

 Your conclusion, while I’ve no reason to doubt its sincerity, could not be more wrong. No one has killed Christmas.  In fact Madame I present to you that it is more alive today than at any time history.

 Yes, we seem to have an overabundance of those of a certain mind and constricted heart these days.  Those of loud voice and shrill manner who make it their mission to rid us of all manner of public displays of Christmas.

 From the cross at the memorial to the nativity scene on the square to even the lyrics of Silent Night there seems to be no end to the newly “offensive” or “intolerant”.

 And, it surely must seem to you that the almighty dollar now outshines the Christmas star.  (Why just this past fall I myself filled with dismay as I entered what we call a “big box” to see the Christmas display going up a full week before I’d even had a chance to celebrate All Hollow’s Eve!)

 Yes, we have some things amiss and some priorities a bit out of joint, but I assure you the egos of the few are in great disproportion to the beliefs of the many.

 That “war” on Christmas you hear about? 

 Just plain old mortal insecurities fighting amongst themselves in a battle they don’t even realize they can never win.  The very intellect they use to demand their “right” to not see, blinding them from the light right in front of them.

 They have not a clue that when you were turning 21, roughly two-thirds of the world’s Christians were still clustered in the old countries of Europe.  How disappointed they would be to learn that in just this past century the worldwide census of Christians has grown from around 600 million to over 2 billion. From South America, to the deepest of Africa to the vastness of Asia, the spirit of Christmas is grows with each passing day.

 And though the Holy Lands are once again enraged against it, Christmas will be celebrated around the world this year by more people today that at any time in history.

 No, Virginia, Christmas is anything BUT dead. 

 It is fully alive and spreading more joy to the world now than ever before. 

 Joy not of mortal endeavor but the joy of something far, far greater; the joy of belief, the joy of hope, the joy of salvation, the joy of peace within the heart.

 For you see Virginia, as much as they try, as much as they fight, as much as they demand, they can no more kill Christmas than they can deny the existence of that jolly old elf you inquired of so many years ago.

 So you have yourself a very, Merry Christmas Virginia.  And if you get a chance, please tell Santa hi for me.

(Publisher’s Note:  A version of this column first appeared in the December 25th, 2013 print edition of the Joplin Globe.)


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