A little bit of history
In 1897 an eight-year-old girl, named Virginia O’Hanlon, wrote the New York Sun, a newspaper which is now out of business, a letter asking is there was a Santa Claus. The answer to her question, “Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus”, has become the most reprinted article in the history of newspapers. BIG HONKIN’ DEAL!
Now I don’t want you all to think I’m putting the knock on little girls. I love little girls, but not in any way that could be considered inappropriate. I just don’t think we should be basing our holiday traditions on conservative news outlets. Virginia wrote the Sun because her father said, “If you see it in THE SUN, it’s so.” In today’s parlance that would be like saying, “If you see it on FOX News, it’s the absolute truth,” and I’m skeptical about that. They pride themselves on being ultra conservative, and that’s fine if that’s what you want. The thing is, sometimes the truth isn’t always the truth. Often there is more than one truth. Frequently opinion gets mixed up with truth like a dog’s breakfast. Then it’s up to the dog’s guts to sort it out. Do you honestly think you can rely on your dog’s intestines to know about Santa Claus? If you scratch a dog’s ear he’ll believe in Santa Claus, The Tooth Fairy, the Great Pumpkin, the zombie apocalypse, anything! Now don’t think this means I against conservative thinking. I’m just as wary about NPR, the other liberal media outlets, and my cat’s guts.
What should have happened
I think Virginia should have written eight or ten letters and sent them to various outlets and gotten opinions from several sources. That way she could set up a spread sheet, evaluate all the answers, graphed the results, maybe even set up a peer review, and then she would have really understood the issues at hand and made an informed opinion. Boy, is that a Generation X answer or what?
Before I go on, I want to state categorically that I agree with The Sun, there is a Santa Claus. I think it’s a little eccentric of him, living so far up north with all those little people, but hey I don’t judge. Virginia didn’t have to go to some newspaper stranger she could have come directly to me. Although, she would have had to wait almost a hundred years for an answer and I guess that could have been a issue because the tale goes on to say, she did this because she was writing a school paper entitled, Why I Believe in Santa Claus, and wanted to know the answer. So, I guess waiting that long probably would have made the paper a bit overdue. That could have been a problem.
Francis never gets his due
The guy who wrote the whole “Yes Virginia” article was a veteran newspaper man named Francis Pharcellus Church. Hardly a name that rolls off the tongue, and yet he has been reprinted and quoted more times than Forrest Gump. The thing is, he did not sign the article when he originally wrote it. With a name like Francis Pharcellus Church, I would sign everything. Especially if it was good. That name probably got him beat up in school, so this is the ultimate retaliation. No one remembers those bullies’ names who made fun of him, but everyone quotes Francis Pharcellus Church.
The easy road to fame
Of course, Virginia and Francis had help on this road to fame. The simple fact that Santa is a Christmas icon and Christmas comes every year. If Virginia had written, “Will aliens from Mars invade in 1900?” It would have been completely different. Even if the Martians had come, and we are now all pod people, the article, “Yes Virginia there are Martians” would have died after 1901 because it’s dated. With the holiday season coming back every year, the cute little sappy story can return also. It’s just like Christmas Carols which I have mention in the past. Those songs return every year and some are dated enough to have Good King Wenceslas send a comely wench to a homeless man after dinner. This sort of behavior must have acceptable when the song was written, and even though we are more enlightened these days, we still sing it every year. Sorry I was gone I’m back now.
Another thing you have to remember about this little Santa story is how nicely it rolls off the tongue. If the roles were reversed and Virginia was the adult, the line “Sure Francis there’s a Santa Claus” would never have been famous. It just doesn’t have that zing. Virginia’s a wholesome girl who drinks milk and goes to the library. Where as Francis wears glasses and gets beat up by bullies. Look I didn’t make the rules, I’m only telling you the way it is.
So many things could have gone wrong
What would be even worse would be if the letter to the newspaper was unsigned. Francis couldn’t just write, “Dun dun daaaaa on this day September, 21st 1897 I declare there is a Santa Claus. So let it be written.” Nope! The liberal media would have a field day with that. You can’t make proclamations like that anymore. Well, not in the US anyway. So, if he can’t make a proclamation and the letter wasn’t signed, what else could Francis do? He could have written, “Sure kid, there’s a Santa Claus.” I’m sure that wouldn’t have stood the test of history well. I mean there’s been several books and animated short films made with the Virginia title. How would this title look? It almost sounds like a New York gangster is saying it. If you don’t know what I mean check out Tony Soprano.
It was a slow news year
Another thing about how this became so famous is when it was said. Turn of the century United States was stable. Automobile companies were being started, we weren’t involved in any wars, and social media hadn’t been invented. In other words, boring. I mean, if the senate was investigating Mark Zuckerberg or something like that, this article about Virginia would have gotten lost in the pile of other news crap. I actually Googled news articles from 1897 and Virginia was like the highlight of the year. There was nothing going on; Not one internet IPO, No blockbuster movies, No Kardashian scandals, or TV sitcoms being replaced by reality TV programs. How did those people survive? The only thing I can figure is, with Francis’s news about Santa Claus, which came in September, they were able to forget all that stuff and get into the important task of writing holiday wish lists, and letters to Santa. I bet the elves put in some overtime that year.
My connection to all this
The thing is with all the reprints of the article and story nobody’s ever cashed in. Well, I am here to announce that Francis’s daughter, Angola, married my great grandfather Aloysius Ohh!. This makes me the heir to all profits from all reprints, movies and books sold from the article. Ha Ha I’m rich The Mr. Ohh! fortune has begun. It will be such a Merry Christmas this year. Unless the story is in public domain. Is 1897 before 1926? I guess it is.
Thank you for laughing and Please read a little longer
Thank you all for laughing with me, but I need to be serious. Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency is a genetic disease which rots the liver and lungs. There is no cure. The only help for people is to have a weekly infusion of proteins to stop the spread. For the next few months I will be taking all my proceeds and donating them to the Alpha-1 Foundation who are searching for a cure to this horrible malady. You can give here or for more information go to Alpha-1.org Thanks for supporting world laughter, and finding a cure. Laugh On