A snowclad Ballyshannon - but not this Christmas - mild and wet for now, but getting frosty over the week to come...
With only a few hours now to Christmas Day, it’s a time of mixed emotions for many. For those looking forward to the arrival of Santa, and that includes this writer, it’s a time of excitement and expectation.
For many too it’s a sad time, memories perhaps of a loved one no longer with us, memories of a sad event at this time of year is always, somehow, more magnified.
It’s a time for sensitivity, a time to think about the bigger picture, a time to reflect, a time to put the hand out to someone we may have fallen out with during the year, a time to say forgive and forget perhaps?
For many it’s a demanding, tough time; money is a huge issue for so many - over 2,000 people shall avail of the services of St Vincent de Paul in this county alone this Christmas, so that is proof, if it were ever needed, that Christmas puts many of us to the pin of our collar.
There’s a magic too for our young people, a magic best captured in an oft quoted editorial written in 1897 by the editor of the New York Sun in response to a letter from 8-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon, New York who asked him if there was a Santa Claus.
In a memorable unsigned editorial written in reply by veteran newsman Francis Church, which has become history’s most reprinted newspaper editorial, he told her her friends who had suggested there was no Santa Claus had been “affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age”. He reassured her: “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.”
120 years later the sentiment remains the same and what better way to conclude than this, from the final line of the New York Sun’s reply to Virginia: “Ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.”
Happy Christmas folks.