15 Minutes.

Daily Prompt : You have 15 minutes to address the whole world live (on television or radio — choose your format). What would you say?

(I find myself standing on a stage in front of millions of people.  A hush has fallen over the crowd.  It’s quiet.  Except for a couple coughs and readjusting their seat.  They wait.  Cameras flash as people take pictures.  Film crews, many, surrounding the stage that I shakily stand on.  It’s Christmas Eve.  The world has gone crazy on the debate whether or not Santa Clause is real.  The world is watching.  I fumble with my index cards as I look at the crowd, one more swoop through, and wonder if anything I was about to say would mean anything to any of them.  I clear my throat.)

Dear People of the word, (My voice sound weak.  Almost hoarse.  I know if I’m going to get this to work, I must sound more proud.  I straighten my back and take a deep breath.  Starting over.)

Dear People Of The World, (A couple people smile in the front.  I wonder if they know how nervous I am.  How everything I was about to say I meant and I believe.)

Lately.  (I adjust my skirt.)  We have had a big debate on the existence of Santa Clause.  Whether or not he is real, or an old fairy tale our parents told us to keep us in line – since no one has ever saw him.  Thinking on this topic makes me think of a cartoon I watched the other night, “Yes, Virginia”.

(I stop for a moment and take a breather.  I glance down at my hands, which are knotted and intertwined in themselves.  A pretzel.  I didn’t realize I could get my hands to look like this.  The crowd, the world waits for me to continue.)

I have tried, many times in my lifetime, to explain why people should always believe in Santa Clause, whether you are 6 or 106, and until I watched that cartoon, alone in my cold living room, did I hear the best way to explain the reason.  (I wipe my forehead free of sweat.)  Out of curiosity I Googled the clipping from the newspaper in the cartoon and realized it was a real clipping from a newspaper from September 21, 1897 and written by a news reporter by the name of Francis Pharcellus Church.

I want to read this news paper clipping from the New York Sun if you’ll have me.

(Out of a small pocket on my jacket I pull out a folded piece of paper.  I unfold it, shaking just a little, and run my eyes over the words that were printed on the sheet.  I couldn’t believe I was standing in front of these millions of people.  The world.  Explaining to them why anyone, no matter how old they are, should believe in Santa Clause.  I begin:)

Virginia O’Hanlon wrote to the sun, this is what she wrote, “Dear Editor, I am eight years old.  Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Clause.  Papa says, ‘If you see it in The Sun it’s so.’  Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Clause?”  After a quick response, Mr. Church replied, and he wrote:

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except for 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 Virginia’s. 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, but even if they 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 may 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, fancy, 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! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.’

(I folded the piece of paper and placed it back in my pocket, never looking up at the crowd.  If I were to drop a pin, I’d hear it.  I closed my eyes and took a moment for myself before lifting my head and revealing a jaw dropped audience.  A couple, sitting in the middle of the front row, smiled, tears speckled their cheeks.  I felt my heart expand.  The crowd stood on it’s feet, applauding.  I smiled.)

Thank you.  (I took my bow.  I took that moment to enjoy everything.  Even if I didn’t win over everyone, even if I didn’t win the debate, I believe that I got my point across.  The love and beauty, never being written so well since, still rings in my head from that clipping.  I enjoyed it.  If one person, or two, enjoyed it as much as me.  Then I did my job.)

(I turned on my heels and began walking away.  I didn’t stop until I got back to my hotel room where I dropped, roughly, on my bed and pulled a sheet over my face.  I was still fully dressed as the last bit of sun peeked it’s “Hello!” through my window.  I didn’t know what would happen the next day but I was proud.  I was happy, and for me, that was enough.)


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