Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus
(Editorial Page, 1897, New York Sun)
We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the
same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends
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, its'so."
Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?
Virginia, your little friends are wrong.
They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except
that they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their
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 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 not proof
that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are
unseen and unseeable in the world.
You tear apart a 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, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and
picture the supernatural beauty and glory beyond. Is it 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.
(A Physics Perspective)
1. No known species of reindeer can fly. But there are 300,000 species of living organisms yet to be classified, and while most of these are insects and germs, this does not completely rule out flying reindeer, which only Santa has seen.
2. There are 2 billion children (under 18) in the world. But since Santa doesn't appear to handle Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Jewish children, that reduces the workload to 15% of the total - 378 million or so. At an average rate of 3.5 children per household, that's 91.8 million homes. One presumes there's at least one good child in each home.
3. Santa has 31 hours of Christmas to work with, thanks to time zones and the rotation of the earth, assuming he travels east to west. This works out to 822.6 visits per second. This is to say that for each Christian household with good children, Santa has 1/1000th of a second to park, hop out of the sleigh, jump down the chimney, fill the stockings, distribute the remaining gifts under the tree, eat the snacks, get back up the chimney, get back in the sleigh, and move on to the next house. Assuming that each of these 91.8 million homes are distributed evenly (which we know to be false but for the sake of these calculations we will accept) we are now talking about .78 miles per household, a total trip of 75 1/2 million miles, not counting bathroom stops. This means that Santa's sleigh is traveling at 650 miles per second which is 3000 times the speed of sound. For comparison, the fastest man made vehicle, the Ulysses space probe moves at a pokey 27 miles per second.
4. The sleigh's payload adds another interesting element. Assuming that each child gets nothing more than a medium sized Lego set (2 pounds), the sleigh is carrying 321,300 tons not counting Santa, who is invariably described as overweight. On land, conventional reindeer can pull no more than 300 pounds. Even granting that flying reindeer could pull ten times the usual amount, we'd need 214,000 reindeer. This increases the weight, not even counting the sleigh, to 353,430 tons. Again, for comparison this is four times the weight of the Queen Elizabeth 2.
5. 353,000 tons traveling at 650 miles per second creates enormous air resistance. This would heat the reindeer in the same manner as a spacecraft re-entering the earth's atmosphere. The lead pair of reindeer would absorb 14.3 QUINTILLION joules of energy per second each. In short, they would burst into flame almost instantaneously, exposing the next pair of reindeer, and creating deafening sonic booms in their wake. The entire team would be vaporised within 4/1000th of a second. Santa, meanwhile, would be subjected to centrifugal forces 17,500 times the force of gravity. A 300 pound Santa would be pinned to the back of his sleigh by 4,300,000 pounds of force.
The only logical conclusion is that Santa exists only through the magic of Christmas.
Santa Lives In All of Us (How You Can Be
I remember my first Christmas adventure with Grandma. I was just a kid. I remember tearing across town on my bike to visit her on the day my big sister dropped the bomb: "There is no Santa Claus," she jeered. "Even dummies know that!"
My Grandma was not the gushy kind, never had been. I fled to her that day because I knew she would be straight with me. I knew Grandma always told the truth, and I knew that the truth always went down a whole lot easier when swallowed with one of her "world-famous" cinnamon buns. I knew they were world-famous, because Grandma said so. It had to be true.
Grandma was home, and the buns were still warm. Between bites, I told her everything. She was ready for me. "No Santa Claus?" she snorted....
"Ridiculous! Don't believe it. That rumor has been going around for years, and it makes me mad, plain mad!! Now, put on your coat, and let's go."
"Go? Go where, Grandma?" I asked. I hadn't even finished my second world-famous cinnamon bun. "Where" turned out to be Kerby's General Store, the one store in town that had a little bit of just about everything. As we walked through its doors, Grandma handed me ten dollars. That was a bundle in those days. "Take this money," she said, "and buy something for someone who needs it. I'll wait for you in the car." Then she turned and walked out of Kerby's.
I was only eight years old. I'd often gone shopping with my mother, but never had I shopped for anything all by myself. The store seemed big and crowded, full of people scrambling to finish their Christmas shopping. For a few moments I just stood there, confused, clutching that ten-dollar bill, wondering what to buy, and who on earth to buy it for.
I thought of everybody I knew: my family, my friends, my neighbors, the kids at school, the people who went to my church. I was just about thought out, when I suddenly thought of Bobby Decker. He was a kid with bad breath and messy hair, and he sat right behind me in Mrs. Pollock's grade-two class.
Bobby Decker didn't have a coat. I knew that because he never went out to recess during the winter. His mother always wrote a note, telling the teacher that he had a cough, but all we kids knew that Bobby Decker didn't have a cough; he didn't have a good coat. I fingered the ten-dollar bill with growing excitement. I would buy Bobby Decker a coat!
I settled on a red corduroy one that had a hood to it. It looked real warm, and he would like that.
"Is this a Christmas present for someone?" the lady behind the counter asked kindly, as I laid my ten dollars down. "Yes, ma'am," I replied shyly. "It's for Bobby." The nice lady smiled at me, as I told her about how Bobby really needed a good winter coat. I didn't get any change, but she put the coat in a bag, smiled again, and wished me a Merry Christmas.
That evening, Grandma helped me wrap the coat (a little tag fell out of the coat, and Grandma tucked it in her Bible) in Christmas paper and ribbons and wrote, "To Bobby, From Santa Claus" on it.
Grandma said that Santa always insisted on secrecy. Then she drove me over to Bobby Decker's house, explaining as we went that I was now and forever officially, one of Santa's helpers.
Grandma parked down the street from Bobby's house, and she and I crept noiselessly and hid in the bushes by his front walk. Then Grandma gave me a nudge. "All right, Santa Claus," she whispered, "get going."
I took a deep breath, dashed for his front door, threw the present down on his step, pounded his door and flew back to the safety of the bushes and Grandma. Together we waited breathlessly in the darkness for the front door to open. Finally it did, and there stood Bobby.
Fifty years haven't dimmed the thrill of those moments spent shivering, beside my Grandma, in Bobby Decker's bushes. That night, I realized that those awful rumors about Santa Claus were just what Grandma said they were -- ridiculous. Santa was alive and well, and we were on his team.
I still have the Bible, with the coat tag tucked inside: $19.95.
May you always have LOVE to share, HEALTH to spare and FRIENDS that care...
And may you always believe in the magic of Santa Claus!