When 8-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon was unsure about whether Santa Claus was for real, her father told her to write a letter to the newspaper.
In 1897, O’Hanlon’s friends began to have their doubts about Santa Claus.
She then turned to her father for advice. He suggested she write a letter to the New York Sun, telling her that if she saw it in the Sun, it would be proof enough of Santa’s existence.
So, she wrote to the newspaper pleading, “Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?”
Her letter was handed over to editor Francis Church, who, it seems, was rather reluctant to do anything about it all.
He didn’t exactly have the reputation of being the most gentle man on the staff of the newspaper.
But his response has become a part of Christmas lore.
He told Virginia her friends were wrong, that they had been affected by “skepticism.”
He went on to say, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.” He told Virginia that Santa exists “as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist.”
And in his response to little Virginia’s letter, Church concluded, “A thousand years from now, maybe 10 times 10,000 years from now,” Santa “will continue to make glad the hearts of children.”
The letter became the inspiration for “Miracle on 34th Street.”