OPINION: Longtime belief in Santa has not weakened with time

“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exists, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.”
– editorial in the New York Sun, 1897, by Charles Dana,
responding to a letter from
8-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon

Santa Claus is coming to town. Once again it’s about time for the incredible journey of the big man in a red suit who leaves behind a trail of toys and smiling children.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. I believe.
I believe because of my Uncle Charlie. Charlie Vincent died this year, but for me, he will always exemplify the spirit of giving.
He lived in the small, rural community of Holcomb in Grenada County. With his beard he puts lots of folks in mind of Kenny Rogers. But as December neared for many years, he became Santa. He was Santa for churches, businesses, clubs and civic organizations.
Every penny offered for his Santa services went to the Shriners to be used in their Crippled Children’s Hospitals.
No one asked him to do it. He just did.

Flying the friendly skies
I believe because of a story I read a few years ago about a small airline whose employees for several seasons offered Christmas to large groups of terminally ill children.
These kids showed up at an airport near their home or hospital and board a jet. Their destination? The North Pole.
But not really.
After flying the friendly skies for a while, the jet landed at the same airport from which it had taken off. But those children believed with their whole hearts they were sure-enough-by-golly at the North Pole.
And they weren’t disappointed.
They were taken to an area of the airport that had been transformed, magically so, into a virtual Christmas wonderland. Complete with Santa and elves bearing gifts.
The airline didn’t have to give of its time and fuel and funds. But it did.
I believe because of the U.S. Postal Service.
In the past few weeks, letters to Santa have been arriving at the Daily Journal to be printed in our paper on Christmas Eve. (We, of course, forward all letters on to Santa.)
Most of these letters are addressed simply The North Pole, and yet, somehow, the Post Office gets them right where they need to be. A few letters have even arrived without postage. Now, that’s cool.
I believe because when we were little girls, my sister and I always left a plate of cookies and a glass of cold milk for Santa on Christmas Eve. And every Christmas morning, the cookies were gone, the glass empty.
One special Christmas, the North Pole resident left my sister and me a special treasure.
Scrawled in his own handwriting, around the cookie crumbs on the paper plate, the big man wrote: Dear Leslie and Beth, Thanks for the cookies. They were good. Rudolph enjoyed them, too. Love, Santa.
Oh, yes. I believe.

Contact Leslie Criss at leslie.criss@ djournal.com or (662) 678-1584.

Leslie Criss/NEMS Daily Journal

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