I caught a story on my local TV station website Saturday afternoon that caused me to chuckle.
It seems a recent episode of “Everybody Hates Chris,” which is shown on the UPN network, had one of the characters named Drew tell his sister Tanya that there was no Santa Claus.
Drew told Tanya: ” Everybody knows there’s no Santa Claus … Come here, let me show you something. I’m taking you to the toys … Santa doesn’t come down the chimney. We don’t even have a chimney. We have radiators.”
Little Tanya stomps out of the room. Then, more bubbles are burst when Tanya’s dad, Julius, tells her the Easter bunny and tooth fairy don’t exist, either.
“Somebody better give me my teeth back,” the girl fumes.
The funny part, at least to me, was later in the story when it reported the reaction of the child of the executive producer:
UPN said it got “a handful” of complaints about the show last week. Even the show’s executive producer and co-creator said his own 6-year-old son was upset when he saw the show.
Ali LeRoi said his wife ended up telling the boy to ignore it since “it was just a TV show” and that worked.
I guess “funny” is not the word I should use, more like “sad.” I mean we, as a community, demand that children not tell lies yet here are parents not only lying to their child but also encouraging a belief they themselves know is not true.
Of course some do lie and see nothing wrong with that. President Bush used false intelligence to sell the Iraq war to the US public, but children lying is frowned upon. At least that is what most people believe.
I think that if we want people to follow certain principles then we ought not look the other way because we might upset any contrary beliefs like a belief in Santa or some other mythical character. Adults KNOW there is no real Santa but every year some fall over themselves to make sure children believe there is one and act indignant if their child is told otherwise.
The title to this post alludes to the famous 1897 New York Sun editorial by Francis Pharcellus Church, who answered an 8 year old girl’s question “Is There a Santa Claus?”
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.
We are told we are “affected” by skepticism that we only believe what we see. Our minds are small, we are told, unable to grasp the whole “truth” of the vast universe. We are told that there would be no art or romance and we would live in a dreary world indeed. We are told children need to believe or all light in the world would be extinguished — What the hell!?!
What is interesting about the editorial is if you substitute “Jesus” or “God” for “Santa Claus” you can read some of the very same arguments used to rebut those who don’t believe in any of it.
Here is how I would rewrite the editorial had it come to me in 1897:
Virginia, your little friends are right. 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 minds. We may not know everything about this great universe of ours, but we know there is the possibility we may learn.
No, Virginia, there is no person named Santa Claus but the ideals that Santa stands for like love and generosity 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 love and generosity. It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias.
There is no Santa Claus nor fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but they would be wasting their time. Nobody sees Santa Claus because he doesn’t exist. The only real things in the world are those that children and men can see, taste, hear, and smell. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, because they don’t exist.
You can tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside. Curiosity and science can help us learn the answers we don’t yet know.
A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, Santa will be just a mere footnote in the long story of human existence. He stands for the old way of attributing what was not understood, to mythical beings. It is passe to believe in Santa. Virginia, get a life.