A Selection of Yuletime Words
Yes, Virginina, There is a Santa Claus
A Christmas Carol
Gift of the Magi

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Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus

"Editor's note: One hundred years ago, a little girl asked the editor of The New York Sun if she should believe in Santa Claus. The newspaper's 500-word reply -- written without a byline by Francis Pharcellus Church and headlined "Is There a Santa Claus?" -- became the most reprinted editorial of all time. Here is the original, as published Sept. 21, 1897."

<<Info gatherered from Newseum>>

Letter from the Editor of The Sun:

We take pleasure in answering at once and thus prominently the communication below expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:

Virginia's Letter read:

     Dear Editor:
     I am eight 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?
     Virginia O'Hanlon 115 West 95th Street

In Reply to her letter came this story:

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

     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 eternal 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 coming down, but 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 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 of the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

     You tear apart a baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the
     unseen world which not the strongest man, not the united strength of all the strongest men that
     ever lived, could tear apart.

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

No Santa Claus!   Thank God he lives, and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continueto make glad the heart of childhood.

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A Christmas Carol (complete text) from www.literature.org

Words Index

                              by O. Henry

One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies.
Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and
the butcher until one's cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that such
close dealing implied. Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty- seven cents.
And the next day would be Christmas.

There was clearly nothing to do but flop down on the shabby little couch and howl. So
Della did it. Which instigates the moral reflection that life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and
smiles, with sniffles predominating.

While the mistress of the home is gradually subsiding from the first stage to the second,
take a look at the home. A furnished flat at $8 per week. It did not exactly beggar
description, but it certainly had that word on the lookout for the mendicancy squad.

In the vestibule below was a letter-box into which no letter would go, and an electric
button from which no mortal finger could coax a ring. Also appertaining thereunto was a
card bearing the name "Mr. James Dillingham Young."

The "Dillingham" had been flung to the breeze during a former period of prosperity when
its possessor was being paid $30 per week. Now, when the income was shrunk to $20,
though, they were thinking seriously of contracting to a modest and unassuming D. But
whenever Mr. James Dillingham Young came home and reached his flat above he was
called "Jim" and greatly hugged by Mrs. James Dillingham Young, already introduced to
you as Della. Which is all very good.

Della finished her cry and attended to her cheeks with the powder rag. She stood by the
window and looked out dully at a gray cat walking a gray fence in a gray backyard.
Tomorrow would be Christmas Day, and she had only $1.87 with which to buy Jim a
present. She had been saving every penny she could for months, with this result. Twenty
dollars a week doesn't go far. Expenses had been greater than she had calculated. They
always are. Only $1.87 to buy a present for Jim. Her Jim. Many a happy hour she had
spent planning for something nice for him. Something fine and rare and
sterling--something just a little bit near to being worthy of the honor of being owned by

There was a pier-glass between the windows of the room. Perhaps you have seen a
pier-glass in an $8 flat. A very thin and very agile person may, by observing his reflection
in a rapid sequence of longitudinal strips, obtain a fairly accurate conception of his looks.
Della, being slender, had mastered the art.

Suddenly she whirled from the window and stood before the glass. her eyes were shining
brilliantly, but her face had lost its color within twenty seconds. Rapidly she pulled down
her hair and let it fall to its full length.

Now, there were two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs in which they both
took a mighty pride. One was Jim's gold watch that had been his father's and his
grandfather's. The other was Della's hair. Had the queen of Sheba lived in the flat across
the airshaft, Della would have let her hair hang out the window some day to dry just to
depreciate Her Majesty's jewels and gifts. Had King Solomon been the janitor, with all
his treasures piled up in the basement, Jim would have pulled out his watch every time
he passed, just to see him pluck at his beard from envy.

So now Della's beautiful hair fell about her rippling and shining like a cascade of brown
waters. It reached below her knee and made itself almost a garment for her. And then
she did it up again nervously and quickly. Once she faltered for a minute and stood still
while a tear or two splashed on the worn red carpet.

On went her old brown jacket; on went her old brown hat. With a whirl of skirts and with
the brilliant sparkle still in her eyes, she fluttered out the door and down the stairs to the

Where she stopped the sign read: "Mne. Sofronie. Hair Goods of All Kinds." One flight
up Della ran, and collected herself, panting. Madame, large, too white, chilly, hardly
looked the "Sofronie."

"Will you buy my hair?" asked Della.

"I buy hair," said Madame. "Take yer hat off and let's have a sight at the looks of it."

Down rippled the brown cascade.

"Twenty dollars," said Madame, lifting the mass with a practised hand.

"Give it to me quick," said Della.

Oh, and the next two hours tripped by on rosy wings. Forget the hashed metaphor. She
was ransacking the stores for Jim's present.

She found it at last. It surely had been made for Jim and no one else. There was no other
like it in any of the stores, and she had turned all of them inside out. It was a platinum fob
chain simple and chaste in design, properly proclaiming its value by substance alone and
not by meretricious ornamentation--as all good things should do. It was even worthy of
The Watch. As soon as she saw it she knew that it must be Jim's. It was like him.
Quietness and value--the description applied to both. Twenty-one dollars they took from
her for it, and she hurried home with the 87 cents. With that chain on his watch Jim might
be properly anxious about the time in any company. Grand as the watch was, he
sometimes looked at it on the sly on account of the old leather strap that he used in place
of a chain.

When Della reached home her intoxication gave way a little to prudence and reason. She
got out her curling irons and lighted the gas and went to work repairing the ravages
made by generosity added to love. Which is always a tremendous task, dear friends--a
mammoth task.

Within forty minutes her head was covered with tiny, close-lying curls that made her look
wonderfully like a truant schoolboy. She looked at her reflection in the mirror long,
carefully, and critically.

"If Jim doesn't kill me," she said to herself, "before he takes a second look at me, he'll
say I look like a Coney Island chorus girl. But what could I do--oh! what could I do with a
dollar and eighty- seven cents?"

At 7 o'clock the coffee was made and the frying-pan was on the back of the stove hot and
ready to cook the chops.

Jim was never late. Della doubled the fob chain in her hand and sat on the corner of the
table near the door that he always entered. Then she heard his step on the stair away
down on the first flight, and she turned white for just a moment. She had a habit for saying
little silent prayer about the simplest everyday things, and now she whispered: "Please
God, make him think I am still pretty."

The door opened and Jim stepped in and closed it. He looked thin and very serious.
Poor fellow, he was only twenty-two--and to be burdened with a family! He needed a new
overcoat and he was without gloves.

Jim stopped inside the door, as immovable as a setter at the scent of quail. His eyes
were fixed upon Della, and there was an expression in them that she could not read, and
it terrified her. It was not anger, nor surprise, nor disapproval, nor horror, nor any of the
sentiments that she had been prepared for. He simply stared at her fixedly with that
peculiar expression on his face.

Della wriggled off the table and went for him.

"Jim, darling," she cried, "don't look at me that way. I had my hair cut off and sold
because I couldn't have lived through Christmas without giving you a present. It'll grow
out again--you won't mind, will you? I just had to do it. My hair grows awfully fast. Say
`Merry Christmas!' Jim, and let's be happy. You don't know what a nice-- what a
beautiful, nice gift I've got for you."

"You've cut off your hair?" asked Jim, laboriously, as if he had not arrived at that patent
fact yet even after the hardest mental labor.

"Cut it off and sold it," said Della. "Don't you like me just as well, anyhow? I'm me
without my hair, ain't I?"

Jim looked about the room curiously.

"You say your hair is gone?" he said, with an air almost of idiocy.

"You needn't look for it," said Della. "It's sold, I tell you--sold and gone, too. It's
Christmas Eve, boy. Be good to me, for it went for you. Maybe the hairs of my head were
numbered," she went on with sudden serious sweetness, "but nobody could ever count
my love for you. Shall I put the chops on, Jim?"

Out of his trance Jim seemed quickly to wake. He enfolded his Della. For ten seconds let
us regard with discreet scrutiny some inconsequential object in the other direction. Eight
dollars a week or a million a year--what is the difference? A mathematician or a wit would
give you the wrong answer. The magi brought valuable gifts, but that was not among
them. This dark assertion will be illuminated later on.

Jim drew a package from his overcoat pocket and threw it upon the table.

"Don't make any mistake, Dell," he said, "about me. I don't think there's anything in the
way of a haircut or a shave or a shampoo that could make me like my girl any less. But if
you'll unwrap that package you may see why you had me going a while at first."

White fingers and nimble tore at the string and paper. And then an ecstatic scream of joy;
and then, alas! a quick feminine change to hysterical tears and wails, necessitating the
immediate employment of all the comforting powers of the lord of the flat.

For there lay The Combs--the set of combs, side and back, that Della had worshipped
long in a Broadway window. Beautiful combs, pure tortoise shell, with jewelled rims--just
the shade to wear in the beautiful vanished hair. They were expensive combs, she knew,
and her heart had simply craved and yearned over them without the least hope of
possession. And now, they were hers, but the tresses that should have adorned the
coveted adornments were gone.

But she hugged them to her bosom, and at length she was able to look up with dim eyes
and a smile and say: "My hair grows so fast, Jim!"

And them Della leaped up like a little singed cat and cried, "Oh, oh!"

Jim had not yet seen his beautiful present. She held it out to him eagerly upon her open
palm. The dull precious metal seemed to flash with a reflection of her bright and ardent

"Isn't it a dandy, Jim? I hunted all over town to find it. You'll have to look at the time a
hundred times a day now. Give me your watch. I want to see how it looks on it."

Instead of obeying, Jim tumbled down on the couch and put his hands under the back of
his head and smiled.

"Dell," said he, "let's put our Christmas presents away and keep 'em a while. They're
too nice to use just at present. I sold the watch to get the money to buy your combs. And
now suppose you put the chops on."

The magi, as you know, were wise men--wonderfully wise men--who brought gifts to the
Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise,
their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of
duplication. And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish
children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of
their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give
gifts these two were the wisest. O all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest.
Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.

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