Yes, Virginia, there is…


Contributing Editor
Walter W. Pickut

“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.”

That’s as true as it was on Sept. 21, 1897 when veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church answered eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon’s letter to the editor at the New York Sun.

Yet, there is another side. “[Many] have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age.” Church went on to say. “They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds.”

Today, we still need the reminder that Virginia’s question inspired so long ago. And when could be better than July? Every year, July takes us to the halfway mark on the way to Christmas. And we certainly need no better excuse for a celebration.

Alek Wek, an award-winning South Sudanese-British fashion model, rightly celebrates more than fame and fortune. “The most beautiful things are not associated with money,” she says, “they are memories and moments. If you don’t celebrate those, they can pass you by.”

So what is a Christmas celebration, whether in July or December, without remembering the memories and moments that make life more beautiful?

As a matter of fact, what is the worth of any day without those memories and sweet reflections of good times with friends, special moments with loved ones, and a chance to make more of those?

Please join the Jamestown Gazette this week in celebrating Jamestown NY’s Christmas in July Movie Night and a Walk Through Christmas Village!

Organizers promise, however it will be a way better celebration than Chevy Chase’s Christmas in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, though never funnier than on National Comedy Center’s big screens when you share it that night with friends and neighbors.

With this first-ever Christmas in July, the organizers promise that “we celebrate movies, cookie contest, kid’s crafts, and of course a visit from Mr. and Mrs. Clause will highlight a weekend of fun.”

Returning to the words of Francis Pharcellus Church in his now immortal reply to Virginia, reassuring her against the Santa-skeptics of her childhood, “Thank God! Santa Claus 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.”

And for those who say Santa Claus simply cannot be real because we cannot see him, Church added, “Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.”

And since Santa is only a symbol of an even deeper spirit of Christmas, why not spend a little time in July thinking about December’s special remembrance?

Christmas is a celebration, a time for giving, a time to reflect on the miracle of what has been given to us, a gift we recall by exchanging gifts in the spirit of togetherness. It’s in the thought we put into thinking about others in our town—a selfless time—a time to forgive, take stock of what is important, especially in this year’s celebration of the children we care for in our community.

Enjoy Christmas in July and then this week enjoy the read right here.

Walt Pickut
Contributing Editor

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Walt Pickut’s writing career began with publishing medical research in1971 while working at the Jersey City Medical Center and the NYU Hospital and School of Medicine. Walt holds board registries in respiratory care and sleep technology as well as bachelor's degrees in biology and communication, and a master's degrees in physiology from Fairleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey, with additional graduate work in mass communication completed at SUNY Amherst. He currently teaches Presentational Speaking in the Houghton College PACE program at JCC and holds memberships in the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He lives in Jamestown with his wife Nancy, an MSW social worker, and has three children: Dr. Cait Lamberton in Pittsburgh, Bill Pickut, a marketing executive in Chicago, and Rev. Matt Pickut in Plymouth, IN.