Years ago, a young girl wrote a letter to The New York Sun newspaper with one simple question; Is there a Santa Claus? Virginia O’Hanlon wrote to The Sun these words:
“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”
Many of us are familiar with the story. One of the paper’s editors, Francis Pharcellus Church, responded with the memorable phrase, “Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.” His actual response was much longer. You can find the full response even today on The Sun’s website.
Faith and belief in the unseen is at the heart of Christmas. I will let Church’s response to Virginia stand on the issue of Santa. But what about the other “stories” of Christmas? Are they true?
A recent study by the Pew Research Center
found that 73% of Americans believe that Jesus was born of a virgin. 81% believe baby Jesus was laid in a manger and 74% believe that angels announced his birth.
I find these statistics encouraging. In a season where the real meaning can be so intertwined with the “tales of the Christmases long, long ago,” I think it is important that we remember some of the elements of the story that make it so unique and miraculous, but nonetheless, still true.
I can think of no better telling of the Christmas story than the one presented many years ago in “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” I always smile whenever I hear Linus tell Charlie Brown what Christmas is all about:
As things become more and more chaotic for you and your family this Christmas season, stop for a moment and ask yourself, “Do I believe?” A story told and retold for almost 2,000 years. A story of a virgin. An angel. A trip. A stable. A birth…that changed everything.
May the love of God fill your homes and your hearts this holiday season. Merry Christmas!