It was the scoop of the century. It was the scoop of the millennium. The Dunn County Herald was granted an exclusive interview with Santa Claus for the front page feature, and we even took his picture.
Most surprising of all, Santa contacted us at the newspaper. Out of the blue he called one day. He set up the appointment for last weekend and he didn’t come alone. We discovered that him bringing Mrs. Claus was one of the reasons for his urgency in doing this interview with us.
Why us? With all the big national newspapers out there, why did he call Dunn County Herald? Why not the Fargo Forum, at least. Who knows?!
But we felt that it was not for us to ask why. Nor did we want to look a gift Santa in the mouth. We immediately agreed to the interview and at the appointed time, in came Santa to our office, bearing his beautiful wife on his arm. Angela, Stacy, Pat and Maggie all were amazed at seeing the couple, sipping coffee with us, looking very serious. “I have two things I want people to know,” started Santa.
It became quite clear that Santa was setting the agenda for the interview. “The first thing I want everyone in Killdeer to know is that I am real. The second thing is that I would be
nothing without Mrs. Claus,” declared Santa.
“Since my wife is with me here, I want to talk about the second thing first,” Santa went on. “Without Mrs. Claus I wouldn’t be able to take off on my annual Christmas journey. My work lasts but one night and I have, for centuries, been getting all the credit for everything. For too long Christmas has been centered around me. Just ask my mother-inlaw!” Santa winked. “Why, if it weren’t for Mrs. Claus there would be no Christmas, no toys, no cookies, no elves at work, no maps for guiding Rudolph and my sleigh on Christmas Eve, no reindeer, no ho-ho-ho’s!”
We feverishly wrote our notes as Santa’s pace and intensity of speech quickened. When we looked up from our notes we could see Mrs. Claus looking at Santa with that maternal look in her eyes, her hands were firmly on her hips.
“I’m here to announce to the people of Dunn County and their newspaper, so they can tell the world, that it’s Mrs. Claus who is the Chairman of the Board of Santa Land at the North Pole,” Santa said as his cheeks reddened even more than usual.
“There, I said it,” Santa said. We were amazed at Santa’s candor. What an admission, we thought. The secret was out, after having been hidden away for centuries. Now Santa had chosen to have us share the big secret with us and the world. The old adage is true. Behind every great man stands a spouse who is usually the Chairman of the Board. What a revelation! Santa sat back in his chair looking very much like a great weight had been lifted from his big shoulders. A little smile was growing on Mrs. Claus’ face. It was done. It was going to print and to cyberspace for everyone with a computer.
It would be published abroad. The world would finally know the truth, Mrs. Claus was the power, Santa was the show. We collected ourselves and our thoughts from this breaking and stunning news. What a scoop! It was ours. “Then, there is the second thing,” Santa said breaking us from our reverie on our scoop of the century. “The second thing is as important as the first. Some kids in Dunn County, even some adults have come to believe that I’m not really real,” Santa said, passion flowing from his words. “I thought this silly notion that I don’t exist was taken care of a long time ago by another newspaper, the New York Sun. So I decided to bring that old story back to another newspaper, the Dunn County Herald by name, to refresh everyone’s memory about how real I really am.” Santa reached into one of the ample pockets of his big red coat. His hand pulled out an old newspaper clipping yellowed with age.
“Would you please print this again in your newspaper as a personal favor to me? It’s a letter written by Francis P. Church who was publisher of the old New York Sun newspaper in 1881. He was responding to a letter he had received from an 8 year old named Virginia O’Hanlon. Virginia, you see, believed what she read in the newspapers and she wanted to know for sure if I was real. I still think it’s the best answer to all children and adults who think that I’m not real. Put it in your paper for the kids of the 21st century to know how real Mrs. Claus and I really are. Maybe this will help everyone understand.” Santa handed us the old weathered newspaper article and as soon as we took it, almost as a vision, Santa and Mrs. Claus vanished from our sight. They were gone as quickly as they had come.
We had experienced a miraculous visitation, historic in proportion. All we had to show for it were two photographs, some notes, and a decaying old newspaper clipping. In silence we read together these words: “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?” Then we read the editor’s answer. “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 external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished. Oh, yes Virginia.
There is a Santa Claus.” We carefully folded the old clipping, put away our notes, sighed quietly in contemplation at what we had experienced, and went to press to share with our readers this amazing story.