Mielke: Century old Christmas editorial still relevant

Christmas, complete with its shiny fake façades of Santas, snowmen and gaily wrapped presents, is marching relentlessly forward.

In fact, it’s almost here.

“Yay, it will soon be over. Did I say that? Out loud.”

I have to admit that even I, who have been a professed believer and a lover of Christmas forever, get a bit weary of the 649th rendition of songs like Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer and/or All I Want for Christmas. And I get so tired of lists. I’m forever losing them and when I find them, the store is most likely out of whatever I listed, anyway.

But still even as the day gets closer, the real gifts of the season remain as constant and unchanging as time itself.

For me, one of those gifts is reading and re-reading the heartwarming, Chicken for the Soul, type stories about Christmas, and, of course, watching heart wrenching, almost true to life movies like ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’.

My own very minor claim to fame and first published column was written about Christmas. I wrote about how we had a real tree and how it fell over after it was ever so beautifully decorated and how our dog, a little black mutt named Barney, chewed the head off a cherished, cookie dough angel. I wrote about how grateful I was that all three of our children were snuggled safely in the back seat of our little old Volkswagon on our way to grandma’s house. I noted the baby’s mitts didn’t match, some of the presents had no tags, but it didn’t matter, because we were all together.

I wrote it, submitted it and someone saw fit to print it.

I was elated.

Yes, I am a newspaper lady with black printer’s ink for blood. And, I must admit, through all the sappy romance of holiday stories, I always find myself being a bit of skeptic with the inevitable ‘what, when, why, where and how,” kinds of questions running through my head.

That is why I so love the editorial by Francis Pharcellus Church, ‘Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus.’ In his editorial he answers all those reporter like questions with eloquence, grace and style.

“Yes, Virginia’ is the ultimate feel-good editorial,” said John Tebbel, a former chairman of the New York University journalism department.

In the movie, Yes, Virginia, Church, a somewhat disillusioned, veteran reporter, told a young female colleague not to get too excited about writing any story because all too soon, it would simply be ‘yesterday’s news.’

Ironically, his editorial proved him wrong. The unsigned editorial was printed in The New York’s Sun on Sept. 21, 1897. It has since become history’s most reprinted newspaper editorial, appearing in part or whole in dozens of languages in books, movies and other editorials and on posters and stamps.

I, for one, read it every year.

And, for me, a humble reporter in 2016, it is especially gratifying to know that the editorial printed more than 100 years ago bringing the age old message of all that is good and beautiful, has lived on to continue to inspire us all.

And to all the Virginias out there, I concur.

There is a Santa!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Treena Mielke lives in Sylvan Lake and is editor of the Rimbey Review. She has been a journalist and columnist for more than 25 years. Treena is married to Peter and they have three children and six grandchildren.

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