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Yes, Virginia … Kindness still exists   

By Jennifer Nicholson

Rowan Public Library

This is my favorite time of year, with decorations, peppermint and cinnamon filling the air, music and especially all the lights.

This is also, to many, a stressful time of year. Many will have simple worries of making sure they have enough gifts, to cleaning the house before guests arrive. Yet, many will also have the worry of no gifts, and many are struggling to stay warm and fed this holiday season.

As many worry and stress this holiday season, I am always reminded of my favorite holiday story. This story is based on real life events and starts with a very inquisitive 8-year-old girl, Virginia O’Hanlon, who in 1897 wrote a special letter to The New York Sun newspaper. Her letter starts:

“Dear Editor- I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, ‘If you see it in The Sun it’s so.’ Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?”

While the response to Virginia, by writer Francis Pharcellus Church, can be a little long, the response by Church is beautifully written.

“Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see…

“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…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 lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.”

The “Yes, Virginia: There is a Santa Claus,” story, resonates the heart of this holiday season, whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas or Kwanzaa, the story carries the belief in kindness, hope, love and joy. This is a story to help teach children the heart of giving and general kindness.

In 2009, CBS created an animated version of this story; and thanks to Macy’s department store, the story was also part of a commercial. “Yes, Virginia” has been retold many times, even outliving Virginia, who died in 1971.

As families and friends come together this season, please come to the library to check out the DVD of the animated story, but also know we have many other books that help teach kindness and generosity.

“How Full is your Bucket? For kids,” by Tom Rath and Mary Reckmeyer, teaches children that everyone has an invisible bucket. When we do great things for others through kindness and helpfulness, we fill each other’s buckets. When we say or do negative things to others, we help empty each other’s buckets. It is a simple book that explains that kindness isn’t just saying nice things, but can also be through our actions.

“Giving Thanks: More Than 100 Ways to Say Thank You,” illustrated by Ellen Surrey, is a new book that shows children how to show thankfulness of others through giving and actions.

While this is a simple example of books to teach children kindness and heart, there are many more at you local library. Please check out our catalog and our website at rowanpubliclibrary.org.

Movie Night at East: “Rear Window,” Dec. 28, 6 p.m., East Branch, Rockwell. Starring Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly, this murder mystery is as well-crafted narratively as it is aesthetically. This film is PG; runtime is 112 minutes. Light refreshments will be served. This event is free, open to the public, and all ages are welcome.

Displays for December: Headquarters, National Parks 100th Year Celebration; East, “It’s a Wonderful Life” Village, Tammie Foster; South, Carson High School student art work.

Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second  language.

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