Yes, Virginia, We Need Your Santa More Than Ever

8-year old Virginia O'Hanlon

If Virginia O’Hanlon were 8 years old today, she wouldn’t have written , or texted , or tweeted about whether there is a Santa. She would see him all over TV and across the media universe selling you name it . A modern Virginia might not even care about those abstractions the New York’s Sun editor Francis Pharcellus Church referenced in his famous reply on September 21, 1897 : love, generosity, devotion, poetry,  beauty, joy, faith, romance, fancy, and glory.  Our Santa is a  marketing persona for  merchandizing  concrete goods,  such as electronic toys and games, DVDs, and a myriad of digital gadgets to distract the young from concepts beyond the world of the senses.  When did Santa Claus become a huckster, a shill,  a ubiquitous salesman?

One of my favorite Santa Claus movies—and probably the very best— is “The Miracle on 34th Street”.   It imagined a real Santa who reflected those unseen transcendent human attributes that Church described.  Its Santa was repelled by  the impersonators  unworthy of his meaningful mission;  who lacked the moral dimension;  whose focus was purely commercial and  impersonal.

Isn’t it time we as a society, and especially we  Christians in our society draw a line in the snow?   Give us back the Santa that  Virgina O’Hanlon asked about.   After all, his original inspiration was an actual saint who  believed in the Christ in Christmas.  A saint whose  generosity had nothing to do with the  bottom line. There are still skeptics  as there were  in the 1890s.  A Santa who glorifies  materialism plays right into their hands.

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