In September 1897, 8-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of New York’s Sun newspaper. The quick response was printed as an unsigned editorial but was the work of veteran newsman Francis P. Church. Though the writing is now 125 years old, the sentiments somehow still inspire and ring true.
It has been a tradition at several of the newspapers I worked at to reprint it each Christmas and since this week’s column falls on Christmas Day, I thought it would be appropriate to do so here. Known as “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus,” it has become history’s most reprinted newspaper editorial, appearing in part or whole in dozens of languages across the world and media landscape. This version was taken from the now-defunct Newseum’s website.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus
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?
115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET.
VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except 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 eternal 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 they 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 the world.
You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and 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, fancy, 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 he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
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Medical Motherhood’s news round up
Snippets of news and opinion from outlets around the world. Click the links for the full story.
• From National Public Radio: “Children's hospitals are struggling to cope with a surge of respiratory illness”
Waiting for their turn in the ER, dazed-looking parents in winter coats bounce crying children in their arms, trying to catch the eye of Dr. Erica Michiels. Us! Pick us next! they seem to plead with tired eyes.
Michiels directs pediatric emergency medicine at Corewell Health Helen DeVos Children's Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Lips pressed together in a thin line, she surveys what she calls the "disaster" area.
"People have been out here waiting for a couple hours, which is heartbreaking," she says.
Typically, the ER at Devos Children's sees about 140 kids each day, according to Michiels, but on a recent Tuesday in mid-December, they saw 253.
"I hate when we have a wait," sighs Michiels. "But for right now, we can't do it any other way."
Like so many other children's hospitals across the nation, the staff at DeVos Children's has been stretched beyond capacity by waves of patients with RSV and, increasingly, the flu.
This surge of sick kids is coming after years of some U.S. hospitals cutting back on pediatric beds — in part because it is typically more profitable to treat adult patients.
The remaining pediatric beds are increasingly concentrated in urban areas, leaving families in rural areas to travel longer and longer distances to get the care their kids need. […]
[…]Northwest SOIL’s corporate owner, Universal Health Services, has for years skimped on staffing and basic resources while pressuring managers to enroll more students than the staff could handle, an investigation by The Seattle Times and ProPublica has found. The psychiatric hospital chain touted its first acquisition of special education schools in 2005 as a “comfortable fit” with its businesses, and Northwest SOIL staffers said they saw the profit motive drive day-to-day decisions.
School districts pay programs such as Northwest SOIL, called nonpublic agencies, to provide specialized instruction for students whose needs can’t be met in traditional public schools. But dozens of complaints filed with the state and school districts in recent years, along with interviews with 26 former administrators, teachers and assistants, show that Northwest SOIL received public money without providing the services or education that its students needed — or that taxpayers paid for.
Northwest SOIL collects about $68,000 in annual tuition per student — more than triple the average per-pupil cost for a K-12 student in Washington — while a student with the highest needs can bring the school as much as $115,000 a year, all paid for with taxpayer dollars.
Last week, The Times and ProPublica reported that the state’s failure to regulate this corner of Washington’s special education system had allowed the school to operate for years with little to no curriculum and with staff so poorly trained that they often resorted to restraining and isolating students. […]
• From The New York Times: “At a holiday celebration in southern Ukraine, ‘kids still need miracles.’”
MYKOLAIV, Ukraine — Some of the children who sat on Saint Nicholas’s lap asked for iPhones. Others asked for peace.
Others, said Yevhen Vorobyov, who was dressed as Saint Nicholas, asked for air defense. Some just wanted clean water, he said, “so that they can finally have a normal shower.”
It is far from a normal holiday season in Mykolaiv, a city besieged by war and decimated by Russian missiles. But on Monday, as children gathered in a boarding school in the southern Ukrainian city to celebrate Saint Nicholas Day, there was still time for celebration.
Nearly a hundred children visited the school, which serves students with special needs, to play games, visit Saint Nicholas and receive presents, including handmade dolls from Canadian police officers and tangerines from local territorial defense soldiers.
[…]Mr. Vorobyov, a trained rehabilitation specialist, said he and his wife use art, sports and what he called “laughter therapy” to reach children who are struggling with their mental health. “We want not only to save people’s lives,” he said, “but also their sanity.”
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