Young girl and Santa Claus.

Yes, Virginia

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.

My little girl was born around Christmas, and from the time she was a baby, she seemed to embody the season – full of good cheer and glad tidings all year long. By the time she was a preschooler and could see the signs of the season start popping up by mid-November in streets, stores and, of course, commercials, she’d get especially chipper. She’d decorate the last two pages of the calendar with crayon turkeys and pumpkins, candy canes made out of glitter and Christmas trees decorated with confetti stars. Each night, we’d mark off another day and count the days left until December 25th. And most nights, we ended up talking a little bit about Santa Claus.

The Jolly Old Elf had a big fan in my daughter. She wrote letters to him that included her Christmas list, naturally, but also asked about his health, his weight (the bigger the better, in her opinion) and the condition of the reindeer. When she got a little older, she took over the planning and preparation of Santa’s Christmas Eve cookies, even slipping out of bed one year to check the temperature of his cup of milk, startling my husband and I as we were placing presents under the tree.

She held on to that childlike wonder, that faith in the unseen and unseeable, for a long time. Long after her classmates had given in to the skepticism of a skeptical age, she clung tenaciously to her belief in Santa Claus. But when she was in fifth grade and still believed, I began to worry that she would say something at school that would leave her open to the ridicule of sometimes cruel preteens. I couldn’t stand the thought of that.

So I broke the news to her. And she cried, stubbornly refusing at first to accept it. And I cried, watching her Christmas spirit deflate like an old tire, feeling as if I’d just punched her. I’d saddened the heart of childhood.

She recovered most of that spirit, of course. It’s not in her nature to be gloomy for long. She’s a young lady now, and she still loves the holiday season, still manages to spread joy to the more cranky and calloused folks all around her (including her mother).

But sometimes we talk about the day that I told her the sad truth about Old Saint Nick, and she’ll sigh wistfully, still a little mournful over the whole thing. That’s usually when I pull out my laminated copy of the famous New York Sun editorial printed in 1897 in response to a letter written by eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon about the existence of Santa Claus. I’ve had the copy for years. My daughter and I have read it together many times since she was in fifth grade. It always gives us each a little bit of comfort.

~ Jackie Papandrew ~
Copyright © 2010
All Rights Reserved

Jackie Papandrew is an award-winning writer, syndicated humor columnist, coffee addict and mom to a motley crew of children and pets who provide a steady stream of column ideas and dirt. She's also wife to a very patient man who had no idea, years ago when he still had time to escape, what he was getting himself into. Visit her website at:

[ by Jackie Papandrew Copyright © 2010, ( -- submitted by: Jackie Papandrew ]

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