From the daily archives: Tuesday, December 15, 2009

InOtherWordsHo, Ho, Ho!
The Curmudgeon Speaks!

I guess you’d say I have, but those doggone crowds still get me antsy. They make the merchants happy ‘cause they know they are making money. But, I for one, would prefer a little less crowded space.
I went into a couple of stores last week where the clerks were so incredibly nice that I had to stop and think where I was. This is definitely wasn’t used to, especially at Christmas Shopping time.
But there they were, all smile and ready to help me with my purchase.
One of them bagged them up and another rang me up, all while I was treated with smiles of genuine gratitude.
The store was full of people too. This definitely got me into a better mood and made me wonder why more merchants don’t train their help to smile and be nice. They might even get a little more business out of it. I know I bought an extra item because the people were so polite I wasn’t in any hurry to leave.
The same was true at a couple of other stores too. Smiling faces, in these cases, were good for business. Most of the other customers in the store were doing a lot of looking, but maybe not so much buying. They may have been basking in the niceness – a precious commodity  anytime of the year.
That experience lowered my blood pressure, lifted my spirits and kept me from huffing and puffing for the rest of the afternoon.
What’s a curmudgeon to do? You can’t get good and grumpy when everybody else is smiling. Maybe it will be a decent Christmas after all.
SPEAKING OF DIFFICULTIES WE got ours worked out with the Chamber of Commerce in Holtville over their brand new marquee. And you can see our name in lights, no doubt, within the next few days.
They were very accommodating and anxious to please. If you want a good buy to promote something, call the Chamber. The sign is a major asset to the city and the businesses located there.
We’d like to see some other folks in other cities put up such electronic signs. They are definitely attention getters. And your message gets blinked to passwersby around the clock, in some cases. You can even say Merry Christmas to anyone you want!
I THOUGHT I COULD GET GOOD AND GRUMPY by attending a city council meeting.
But even that proved to be an exercise in good cheer.
Starting with the public comments section where people air their complaints and suggestions, the council was more than polite. They were downright nice.
One fellow was unhappy because he was notified he had to put up a fence on his property. The council said  they would get more information and detail while referring him to the Planning Commission, politely, for more input.
Others wanted Mack Park remodeled to help out the Little League and Youth Soccer programs in town. Same thing. Nice people looking for nice answers.
The city even threw in some free coffee and cookies to celebrate the new mayor and mayor pro tem.
The coffee wasn’t too good, which gave me something to complain about. But the cookies were terrific!
How can you get good and grumpy with a plate of chocolate chip and  oatmeal and raisin cookies?
What’s a curmudgeon to do?
I’ll just have to enjoy the Holiday spirit and get on with being a nice guy for a change. I’m not sure I can stand it. But, even Scrooge saw the light.
It shows the spirit of the Holiday season is still alive and well among the people of Imperial Valley.
We hope you enjoy it and patronize the merchants who have advertised in it. They keep small town journalists like me working and writing.
It’s been a great year for us. I thank all of you who helped make it a special one and hope that we will all get to meet again in 2010.
Merry Christmas  and  Happy New Year to all! We’ll see you next year!


The Story Behind “Yes, Virginia…”

“DEAR EDITOR: 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 wrSantaong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] 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 they 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 may 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, fancy, 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 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.

By Chris Furguson
Written as a response to a young girl’s question about Santa Claus, the Editorial known as “Is there a Santa Claus” and the famous reply “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus” has become an emotional part of American holiday history.
In 1897, New York Doctor Philip O’Hanlon was asked by his then eight-year-old daughter, Virginia, if Santa Claus existed, since she had been told by her friends that Santa was not real.
Hanlon, possibly passing the buck, told his daughter to write to the New York Sun, a prominent newspaper at the time, saying “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.”
The writer of the reply, Francis Pharcellus Church, a war correspondent during the American Civil War, saw much suffering during the conflict.
Church used Virginia’s letter to deal with more underlying philosophical issues than the question implied.
While the original editorial was buried under several others on September, including one about a “chainless bicycle,” the editorial moved many readers at the time.
Over 112 years later, the original editorial is still the most reprinted editorial in English.
Virginia O’Hanlon eventually became a teacher in 1912 after graduating with a Doctorate from Fordham University.
O’Hanlon retired from the educational field in 1959 and eventually died in 1971.
The original letter was put on Antiques Roadshow on PBS in 1998 and appraised for $20-$30,000.
Church died in 1906.

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