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Yes, Virginia, You've Come a Long Way Baby

Virginia O’Hanlon, eight years old, wanted to know about Santa Claus, so she asked her dad. He dodged the question, perhaps uncertain whether it was really such a hot idea to lie to his own child. Instead, he suggested she write the newspaper.

Editorial page      The New York Sun      September 21, 1897

Dear Editor:
I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, "If you see it in The Sun, it's so." Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?
Signed Virginia O'Hanlon

Virginia, your little friends are wrong……
They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. …..
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. ……
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.

What a cute answer! It tells the true meaning of Christmas and Santa Claus and so forth. Syrupy folks have gushed over it for a hundred years, but two fundamental points should not be lost sight of, lest we all drown in sentimental slop.

1. Virginia asked to be told the truth.

2.  The paper lied to her.

To be sure, it wasn’t a bald-faced, flat-out, self-serving lie, like when that miser Tom Pearlsandswine told his kid that the jingle jangle of the ice cream truck was really the Devil coming. No, this lie was merely a white lie, and served as the framework for conveying transcendent symbolism on wonder, generosity, imagination, joy, etc, etc. It’s a great answer for adults. But children don’t pick up on symbolism. To an eight year old, it's a lie.

Indeed, even Pearlsandswine’s smart aleck answer was never meant to be taken seriously. It was said in obvious good humor, and the blockhead was amazed to find, years later, that his son had believed it for the longest time.

All this brings to mind the sad saga of Sally Claptwaddle, who also asked her parents, when young, if Santa was real. The parents assured her that he was. There were some kids down the street, however, who told Sally the truth.

When she lost her baby teeth, her parents told her that there was a tooth fairy who would leave some cash under her pillow. The kids down the street told her the truth.

When Easter came, her parents told her about the Easter Bunny….a generous rabbit who would fill your basket with chocolate eggs. The kids down the street told her the truth.

Sally reached adolescence and her responsible parents told her about sex.

But she‘d never gotten a straight answer from her folks. It was always nonsense. The kids down the street, on the other hand, had never been wrong. And so, with regard to sex, they had a different take, and the boys among them offered to demonstrate. Sally grew up hating men, though later got considerable revenge when she landed a job with the GPS industry.    

Of course, this all happened to Sally, not Virginia. Virginia lived in a different age. A more secure age, an age in which the consequences of white lies were not so severe.


Santa, the concept:  [a man who] stay[s] up all night distributing presents to children of doubtful deservedness. There is a point where altruism becomes sick.      The Twelve Terrors of Christmas, John Updike  




Tom Irregardless and Me               No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'



I just had a discussion about Santa and how I discovered he didn't exist. But to this day I don't know one person who resents their parents or felt lied to. Anyway, what really interests me is not only JW's refusal of holidays but a growing number of African Americans who see it as a pagan or dangerous holiday. Granted, its roots are dubious (I guess) but you go back a short 40 years (20 in some cases) and many stores would not serve Black folks. Hell, this country is steeped in racist law, theology, etc but Black folks still celebrate the fourth of July. I guess I just don't buy the theory that celebrating Halloween makes you a death-loving pagan. I don't even think it means you LIKE death-loving pagans. It has been so thoroughly scrubbed of it original purpose it is something new altogether. Besides, doesn't God know your heart? Is he that caught up on the particulars? "oh, he went out for Halloween -- I guess he doesn't really love me or my son."

Seems silly.

tom sheepandgoats

To us, Xmas is as if people insist of celebrating a man's birthday, though that man has never given any indication he would like such a thing. Furthermore, they choose, not his own day of birth, but that of someone he can't stand. And they pepper the celebration with trappings and conduct of which he would never approve. Why would anyone who cares about the feelings of the man join in with such a celebration?

But that's why WE don't celebrate it. We have no problem with others doing so. There are movements underfoot by religious and non-religious people alike to ban or restrict the day. We're not part of it, nor do we give moral support.

Rather than tell people what they should or should not do, we look for is people who want to study the Bible with us. Likely some of those people will find the teachings so attractive that they will want to make it their cause, and THEN all the lifestyle changes that come with it (like Christmas, Halloween) they will take as their own. Most people who study with us don't go that far. That's okay with us, we don't go off stomping our feet.

In the meantime, as long as they are not JWs, why should we insist they act like they are? We don't. You're right, Xmas and Halloween roots occurred long ago, most people are only vaguely aware of them, if at all, and many who do the holidays don't do them with any especial sense of religious feeling anyway. And, as you said: "to this day I don't know one person who resents their parents or felt lied to." Me neither.

We've no problem with any of it; I've only explained why WE don't celebrate it. Also, I know many African Americans are gravitating towards Kwaanza. Is it that that day is more attractive due to culture or that Christmas is more unattractive? I don't know.

Jason Chamberlain

We celebrate Christmas, but we definitely downplay Santa. We do tell our daughter about St. Nicholas, but not about the fat guy at the North Pole.

Christmas is fun and all, but to me the real holiday is Easter. Anyone can observe a birthday (whether that is the actual day or not), but only Christians can celebrate a resurrection.

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