In 1897, a veteran newsman with the New York Sun Francis Pharcellus Church wrote an editorial in response to a letter from 8-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon.  Virginia wrote:  “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?"

I’m sure you have read that letter and seen the movies devoted to the story.  Here we are, 116 years later, and the question can be asked again today.  If I were the one who was asked to answer that question, this is the response I would give:

Dear Virginia,

Despite what your friends have told you, Santa is very real.  I know it must be hard being one of the only kids in your group who does believe, but you must be strong and stand up for your beliefs, as they will be challenged throughout your life.

Is Santa a magical man who visits every home around the world in a single day?  Perhaps.  I have seen reports on TV proving his existence that cannot be explained away as coincidence.  Even the U.S. government believes in Santa so much that every Christmas Eve, they track his journey around the world.  You can see it by going to

But more importantly, Santa is the spirit that keeps even adults like me believing in miracles and that good outweighs bad in this world.  Santa inspires people to do good things, especially this time of the year, for those who are less fortunate.  The Internet is loaded with stories about people doing good deeds like secretly paying the grocery bill for the person standing behind them or writing large checks to organizations that do great things for people who need help.

Is Santa a big jolly white man with a white beard and white hair who wears a red suit?  I believe Santa looks like whoever you imagine him to be.  Don’t let anyone tell you he is black or white, Hispanic or Asian.  He is as YOU picture him.  There are a lot of people on TV and the Internet who will try to tell you what he should look like.  Be your own person and use your own imagination and he will be exactly as you picture him.

As for your friends, Virginia, don’t let their lack of imagination and faith discourage you.  Be your own person.  Stand up for what YOU believe in.  As you get older, these same friends may lead you into believing many things that are not true, like taking a few sips of alcohol is no big deal, or taking a pill is fun, or when everybody else is doing something you know is wrong and they tell you you will not be one of the "cool kids" if you don’t join in.

As you get older, you will realize Christmas time is much more than assembling a list of toys you want Santa to bring for you to play with for a day or so and then put on the shelf until mom has a yard sale.   Christmas is a time to reflect on what is truly important in life:  family, friends, health, and love.  One day, you will understand there is much more joy in giving gifts than receiving them; that being able to spend time with loved ones during this time of the year is more important than any gift Santa or anyone else could bring you. I pray, Virginia you are able to have the spirit of Christmas in your heart not just in your childhood, but throughout your life.