OK, here is a question that even you, Smarty Pants (Smarties Pant?) at SYA cannot answer: Is there a Santa Claus?

OK, here is a question that even you, Smarty Pants (Smarties Pant?) at SYA cannot answer: Is there a Santa Claus?

— Pam S., Medford

That you would doubt us, let alone the existence of Old St. Nick, is a very, very sad commentary on the current state of affairs, Pam.

To paraphrase the 1897 words of New York Sun reporter Francis Pharcellus Church, we respond that, yes, Pam, there is a Santa Claus.

Of course, he was responding to 8-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon, who had asked the same age-old question of that paper. Her little friends had told her there was no such thing as a big elf in a red suit.

"They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age," Church wrote in answer to her query. "They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds."

And our man Church rightfully noted that humankind is "a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge."

His point, which our staff, except for one SYA cranky curmudgeon who is getting no gifts this year, is that Santa Claus is as real as a feeling of joy.

"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.

He correctly observes that not seeing something doesn't mean it's not there.

"The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see," he wrote. "Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world."

As for Santa, he lives forever, Church concluded.

"A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood," the journalist concluded.

Merry Christmas, Pam.

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