Knowing what is on the minds of Mississippi Mills children at this time of year, the Millstone once again made a special trip to the North Pole to interview Santa Claus before he starts on his spectacular journey around the world on December 24 to leave gifts in stockings and under trees for good children. We will let Santa speak for himself.
The Millstone: Santa, is it really true that you leave gifts for children all over the world?
Santa: Well, yes it is. I am known by many names throughout the world and customs are different. In Holland, for example, I am called Sinterklaas,and children put out their wooden shoes rather than stockings for me to fill.
The Millstone: Isn’t it an exhausting journey, to cover the whole world in one night?
Santa: Well, it does require a change of clothing about midway. In much of Europe, I wear a long robe – that is how people recognize me, but in North America, I make a change to my comfortable red suit. You have to remember that night comes to different parts of the world at different times and that the world turns toward me as I ride in the sky from east to west so that I have a longer time and a shorter journey than you might otherwise think.
The Millstone: Is it true Santa, that you leave lumps of coal in the stockings of children who have been particularly bad?
Santa: That is true, but I try to avoid it if possible. I can think of a couple of lumps of coal that will have to be delivered to some puppets in Almonte this year, on the basis of their rather risqué performance at the adult evening during the Puppets Up Festival last summer, but this is rather rare.
The Millstone: How do you communicate with the children, Santa, to know what they wish for Christmas?
Santa: Well, in Canada, Canada Post helps enormously. They put Santa post boxes in the offices and forward the letters to me. There is also a post office in the village of Christmas Island, Cape Breton, which receives letters from all over the world and gets them to me directly.
The Millstone: Well, I am sure that the children in Mississippi Mills are most interested in what you think of them this year.
Santa: Well, some have been exceptionally good, paying attention to their studies, participating in sports, being kind and generous, helping others and getting involved in their community. There is certainly more than one way to be “good” and even the occasional slip doesn’t disqualify you. I think there will be some very happy faces Christmas Day.
The Millstone: Do you make any reconnaissance missions to suss out how people are behaving?
Santa: Oh yes, definitely. As you know, I appear at Light Up the Night in Almonte every December and my elves give me intelligence about the local scene.
The Millstone: How to you arrange to land and get into the houses, particularly on houses where there is no chimney?
Santa: In Almonte, the owner of the Victoria Woollen Mill has been particularly thoughtful in including a Santa Claus clause in his condo declaration, so I have the right to land on the roof there in November and December each year. This is especially useful as it allows me to survey the town and decide in what order to deliver gifts. It also gives Rudolph and the reindeer team a breather. Of course, I have to properly identify myself.
For houses where there is no chimney – well – that would be telling. There needs to be a bit of magic in Christmas Eve, don’t you think? I do appreciate the milk and goodies that parents and children leave out for me though. I need refreshment during that long journey and their kindness really touches me.
The Millstone: Well, Santa, I can see that your elves are really busy preparing everything for Christmas Eve. I will Let you get back to your work. Is there anything you would like to say to those who doubt your existence?
Santa: Well, I think that instead of reassuring them myself, I will just give you the wonderful editorial by Francis P Church published in the New York Sun in 1897 responding to a young doubter, 8 year old Virginia O’Hanlan. Here it is:
Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus
By Francis P. Church, first published in The New York Sun in 1897.
We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:
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?
Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except 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 you 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 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, 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 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 Millstone: Thank you Santa and goodbye until Christmas Eve.
Santa: Ho! Ho! Ho! Tell all the children of Mississippi Mills that they should be extra good in these last days before Christmas. Santa is watching with a kindly eye.
Photo courtesy of thecoca-colacompany.com