I’ve got to admit, I’ve been struggling with this whole Santa Claus thing. For some reason, part of me says that there is a measure of deception about the whole thing – that to prolong the myth will just make the heartache greater down the road. Part of me buys into that great Christian lie that says that deceiving is always wrong.
Then, I read something like the below letter and it reminds me that there is deception, and there is joyful deception. After all, isn’t all good fiction deception? Don’t we deceive ourselves into believing that hobbits and wizards (and jolly, fat men in red suits) really do exist?
There’s nothing wrong with the deception. There is something wrong with steal from a three-year-old the knowledge that there is great magic in the world. It’s reprehensible to purloin that part of a child that still believes that he can be part of all of the wonderful delusions of the world.
I’m sure you’ve all read the below letter before. It was written to a little girl whose faith in Santa Clause was waning.
"Dear Virginia: Your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except what they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little.
"In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
"Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists 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. It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias.
"There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
"Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus.
"The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in this world.
"You tear apart the baby's rattle to see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart.
"Only faith, poetry, love, romance can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
"No Santa Claus? Thank God he lives, and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood."