The editor’s response, assuring Virginia O’Hanlon that all that is beautiful and wonderful in the world proves Santa Claus’ existence, has become a classic, reprinted year after year. The Darien Times traditionally runs that editorial in this space the week before Christmas.
Not this year.
Because how can we, how can our children believe in something like Santa Claus as we cope with the aftermath of the horrific events in Newtown last week? Newtown, so close, our neighbor — it could have been Wilton, New Canaan, or Darien. The knowledge makes our blood run cold, and makes the parents among us never want to let our children out of our sight again, and makes those of us without children second-guess the prospect of bringing a child into this dangerous world.
How can we reassure our children that life holds something joyous and magical when we are trying to to help them understand how a gunman could have taken the lives of so many, including 20 innocent children?
Our rational selves can’t comprehend it. Our emotional selves can do nothing but cry in the face of it.
All of us wonder what kind of world we live in, and how something like Santa Claus, a symbol of giving, joy, happiness and peace, can exist in it.
But for us to cope with this tragedy, as we mourn for our brothers and sisters of Newtown, we must find a way to believe that.
We have to believe that the actions of one man does not define our world, and as the state, the nation and the world pray for Newtown, we have to believe that the love exhibited defines us instead.
So yes, Virginia — there is still something to have faith in.
It lives in the adults who threw themselves between their precious students and a madman, sacrificing their own lives without hesitation.
It lives in the heart of every parent who embraced their child getting off a school bus or being dismissed for the day Friday — holding them like they’d never let them go.
It lives in the souls of 20 children that we must believe are comforted somewhere, twinkling like stars in the sky, and the love of their parents who will keep them alive in their hearts and memories.
It lives in every hand, every heart, that has reached out to Newtown to comfort.
It lives in a world truly united for a time, in pain, and in grief, and in hope that this will never happen again.
Yes, Virginia, there is still something to have faith in.
Because if there was ever a time we needed something to believe in, it is here, and it is now. It transcends all, and unites us in our humanity. It moves mountains with its gentle power, and it conquers all fears.
It is love. And only love can keep us from falling apart. Only love can bring closure to sorrow. Only love can lead us to a future where violence is a distant and dark memory.