No Virginia, There Is No Santa Claus (From The Archives)

I wrote this piece back in December of 2006 for a banana republic of a blog that loved getting itself in all sorts of trouble. We were a parody party, and we lampooned the hell out of life, liberty and the pursuit of breaking news.

Every now and then, I would take my way back machine for a ride when the news went cold. So it was one night that I took to skipping backwards in time, armed solely with my vagabond wit and a starched martini.

On this particular evening, I settled inside the year 1897, after which I got to stepping all over the words Francis Pharcellus Church once wrote. Church was an editor for The Sun, which was a big deal New York City paper back when Damon Runyon was a pup. Old Francis had no idea that a hundred and six years later some asshole was gonna spray graffiti all over his classic editorial. Don’t you just love progress?

Church’s piece was in response to eight year old Virginia O’Hanlon’s letter to The Sun in which the little girl asked if Santa Claus was in fact, legit. He responded with what would become a holiday classic titled “Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus”.

So . . of course I had to imagine what kind of response little Virginia O’Hanlon might have gotten if she’d been born in this day and age. The results were, umm . . less romantic. 

Dear Virginia,

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 I-Pods. 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 WMDs 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 secularly 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 Its nexus is borne of classic outdated American literature and ecclesiastical dogma. We should expect no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. 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 lines. 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.