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Back in 1897, an inquisitive little girl named Virginia O’Hanlon sent a letter to The New York Sun.

Virginia wrote that some of her friends had told her that there was no such thing as Santa Claus.

So she put the question to her newspaper: “Papa says, ‘if you see it in The Sun, it’s so.’ Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?”

The short letter, composed with the earnestness that can only be mustered by a young child, prompted one of the most famous newspaper editorials ever written.

Francis P. Church, an editor at The Sun, wrote back to the little girl in the pages of the newspaper:

“Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see,” Church wrote.

“They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds.”

“All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man 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.”

Church continued: “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. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias.”

“There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.”

“Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus.”

“The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.”

“You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart.”

“Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.”

“No Santa Claus!,” Church explained. “Thank God! He lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.”

Virginia O’Hanlon became a school teacher and principal in New York City, where she worked for almost 50 years.

Her simple question and Mr. Church’s thoughtful and touching words in response speak to the true beauty of Christmas.

It’s not the presents or the food, the tree or the lights. Or the hectic scrambles or impossible balancing acts that make the holiday.

It’s about the joy of family and friends, the expectations of better times ahead, and the knowledge that there is love and kindness in the world.

I’ve been blessed with a wonderful and caring family.

And I’ve been given an opportunity beyond the wildest dreams of an 8-year-old wondering about Santa Claus.

And everyday I go about conducting the People’s Business with the knowledge of how lucky I am and appreciative of the trust the people of Maine have placed in me.

So, as we come together this weekend, let us remember what’s important. It’s our family, it’s our friends and our community. It’s the men and women who are serving our country far from home in the military. Let us hold them close in our thoughts and prayers, and be thankful for the sacrifices that they are making and their families are making for the rest of us.

It’s cold out there too and there’s snow on the ground and heating oil prices are too high. So check in on your friends and neighbors, and make sure they’re OK and spread a little holiday cheer.

Mainers, we take care of one another when times are tough, and I know this weekend will be no different.

I hope that everyone has a safe and warm holiday season.

From Karen, Jack and myself, God Bless you, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

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