There is a Ford commercial airing now featuring a little boy sitting on Santa’s lap.
The child says he want’s something tough, powerful or strong. Assuming the innocence of youth, Kris Kringle asks if he means a super hero outfit.
“Is he for real?” the brattish boy asks. He wants a truck, a real truck.
In 1897, 8-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon asked the same question – is Santa real? She wrote a letter to the New York Sun. “Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?”
“Virginia, your little friends are wrong,” wrote veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church. “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.”
“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus,” Church writes. He talked about the childlike belief in Santa delivering toys as well as the adult desire to believe as a way to rekindle the innocence stolen by the Grinch of time.
That was 115 years ago and Church refers to the “skepticism of a skeptical age.” Not much has changed since then.
We again, perhaps still, live in a cynical time. With Christmas advertisements bombarding us from all directions and some many advertisers liking the joy of the season with how much we spend.
Church assured O’Hanlon that, indeed, Santa was real. This is not because he could deliver a pick-up to some snotty brat, but because he is a symbol for the purity of youth, something we all crave no matter what our age.