The boy looked distraught.
“Why so gloomy? It’s nearly Christmas,” his father tried to sound concerned.
“Joey said there’s no such as Santa Claus, and I said, ‘Sure is,’ and he said, ‘Is not,’ and then I got in trouble for punching him.”
“That’s not very nice, Son,” said Dad chidingly.
“I know,” said the boy. “He shouldn’t have said that.”
“I mean it’s not nice to punch someone at Christmas time.”
“Oh, yeah,” the boy realized he should be contrite. “I guess I should have waited till after Christmas, right?”
“That’s not really…” his father started to say, but then he changed his mind.
Instead, he told his son the story about how a newspaper editor once famously responded to a question from a girl named Virginia.
“Virginia’s friends told her there was no Santa Claus,” said the boy’s father, “so her mother suggested that she write a letter to the editor – a very wise man, she said – to ask him, because he would certainly know. And he wrote an editorial especially for Virginia.”
“And what did the wise, old editor write?” the boy asked expectantly.
“He wrote that Santa exists ‘just as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist,’” the man reassured his son. “He wrote that there will always be a Santa Claus, as long as there are children he can make happy. He wrote that Santa will be around for at least a hundred thousand years.”
“No kidding?” the boy said in words the colour of wonder.
“No kidding,” said his dad. “And then, to be perfectly clear and to leave no doubt at all, he wrote right on the editorial page of the newspaper, ‘Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.’”
“He wrote that in the newspaper?” the boy was wide-eyed in amazement.
“Yes, he did,” said the dad.
“Then…” the boy hesitated before continuing: “Fake news, right?”
“That’s right,” said the dad. “But luckily, there’s more.”
“More,” the crestfallen boy stretched the word out like Mr. Bumble did in Oliver Twist.
“It turns out,” said his father, “that scientists have proven beyond any reasonable doubt at all that Santa Claus can’t possibly exist.”
“Oh, boy!” the young man beamed. “Then he IS real! There really IS a Santa Claus!”