I was googleing today because I was looking for ways to make Santa Claus more “real” for my boys.  I just LOVE Christmas and this time of year is really fun for me.  In my search I came across the famous New York Sun editorial, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”  I realized, that while I knew the story, I had never actually read the letter.

In case you don’t know either, in 1897 eight year old Virginia O’Hanlon asked her father if Santa Claus was real.  Instead of handling the difficult question himself, he encouraged her to write the New York Sun to see what their answer would be.  He said “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.”  The reply by newsman Francis Pharcellus Church became history.

Here is that reply:

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, 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.

Credit to Newseum.org

Isn’t that awesome?  I love it!

So in my quest to keep Santa real for my children as long as possible, I have found some fun ideas.  Most of them came from my friends in the momdot forums and others I just found online.  I hope you can find some new ones for your own family.

Here is what I have already started doing:

  1. Leave a plate of cookies, carrots and milk for Santa and his crew.  Me and Bob always eat some and leave some crumbs.
  2. We track Santa on Christmas Eve using Norad.
  3. We bought the boys an Elf on the Shelf to report back to Santa the daily doings of the boys.
  4. The boys have this book called Santa Claus and it does a really great job in explaining the magic behind Christmas and how Santa gets it all done.

Ideas from my Friends that I like:

  1. Staci sprinkles glitter all around her porch and explains to her children that it must have been left from the reindeer collars or Santa’s magic dust.
  2. Brittany leaves muddy boot prints by the door or fireplace and leaves torn cotton balls around to be evidence of Santa’s beard.  She even leaves chewed up carrot bits outside by the sleigh tracks!
  3. Jessi leaves “reindeer feed” (oatmeal and glitter) outside in the snow when the kids are sleeping and they kick it around to make it look like the reindeer did it.  Her family also “carves”  hooves out of potato’s and sticks them on the points of ski poles.  Then her husband puts on his skis and makes reindeer prints and sleigh marks.  To make it extra special her husband goes to a local farm and “steals” hose manure to put in the driveway.. like the reindeer did their business there.
  4. Kas goes all out, I think she is my Santa hero:

Each year we do something different. Last year Santa’s Suit got snagged in the fireplace and he made a mess trying to get it free. I took a stocking and cut a strip of the red and white and hung it in the fireplace and we scattered the fireplace rocks about.

One year he was hungry and got the entire BOX of cookies and left it on the plate with a note-Sorry I was hungry Love Santa.

One year we sprinkled elf dust in the fireplace and woke the kids up by banging loudly on the roof lol. We ran into their rooms saying “did you hear that?” Shhh we have to pretend to be asleep!

One year he left a bell from his sleigh for Gabriel He had watched Polar Express and wanted one.

What do you do with your family to keep the spirit of Santa Claus real?  Any fun traditions that I’m missing out on?