By DINA ARÉVALO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
In 1897, 8-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon asked her father if Santa Claus was real. I’m sure this is a question many parents face with some apprehension. Virginia’s father, Dr. Philip O’Hanlon, suggested she pose the question as a letter to the editor in New York City newspaper, The Sun, a prominent newspaper at the time.
One of the paper’s editors, Francis Pharcellus Church, wrote what has become one of the most famous editorials in history. Yes, he assured Virginia, Santa Claus is real.
Since then, newspapers across the country have carried on the tradition of maintaining the relationship between their youngest readers and the jolly man himself. This newspaper is no exception. We gladly print letters written to Santa each year knowing with certainty that he’ll see them. He’s got a lifetime subscription, after all.
“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,” Church wrote to young Virginia.
And with those two simple sentences are revealed something else that remains true to this day: Not only is Santa real, but the spirit of Christmas is very real, as well.
So what is the spirit of Christmas? Church touches on the definition with his mention of love, generosity and devotion, but there’s more to it than that.
The spirit of Christmas exists in all of us when we think of others before ourselves. It exists when we hold a door open for somebody else, or help our parents by doing our chores. It exists when we share a meal with an old friend, or even a friend newly met who may not have as much food to eat.
The spirit of Christmas exists in kindness extended to strangers; it exists in love shared among families. It exists in laughter and in opening presents on Christmas morning. And the best part is there’s a never-ending supply of the spirit of Christmas. Like love, the more you share, the more it grows, and gets stronger and reaches more people.
In a fast-paced world filled with game consoles, apps and dozens upon dozens of TV channels, we can sometimes forget to take the time to appreciate those smaller moments of perfection where the spirit of Christmas dwells. So, this Christmas, pause and enjoy the holiday, for we are all rich in the spirit of Christmas.
From everyone here at the Port Isabel-South Padre Press and the South Padre Parade, Merry Christmas!
Editor’s Note: Though this column was originally published on Christmas Eve 2015, its message still rings true today. Amidst the hubbub of the daily grind, the cacophony of cable news and the annoyance of traffic jams, it can be easy to forget what this season is all about. But may the sight of the jolly man in red always remind us that it’s the Christmas spirit which makes things merry and bright.
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