Bob Mitchell: Yep, Suzie, there sure is a Santa Claus
Christmas is a lot of things to a lot of people. The true meaning of the holiday is often lost in merchandising and profits.
But, the true meaning of the season was put to a full meaning years ago in a New York newspaper which told a response to a letter from a little girl named Virginia.
In an effort to make an acknowledgment of the holiday that visits us in a different world from when this went to print, an attempt at parody to localize Christmas in Cassville comes via this column.
Frank Church wrote the column for the New York Sun in response to a little girl's question about the existence of Santa Claus. His effort is used as an outline for this Christmas arrival in Barry County.
Yep, Suzie, there sure as shootin' is a Santa Claus!
There is absolutely no doubt he is here this time of year for all that is good for those who believe. He's the one who is a symbol of love, generosity and devotion for those inside the boundaries of Barry County.
Just think, Suzie, how dreary might the near ending of the year, at the acknowledged time of Jesus' birth, if such a historical person did not exist.
Imagine if you can how dreary would be the area up and down Flat Creek and around the shoreline of Table Rock Lake if there were no Santa Claus. It would be the same as if there were no Suzies. For faith, there would be few child-like remembrances, probably no poetry, no romance to make our existence more tolerable. There might not be enjoyment except our sense and sight. And, the long lasting light, which is our childhood, throughout the world could be extinguished.
"Not any Santa Claus?" You might as well not believe Cassville was once home to the shortest standard gage, commercial railroad in the U.S. Those who don't believe in Santa might be those who would watch all homes with chimneys on Christmas Eve in hopes of catching a glimpse of Santa as he makes his rounds. When they failed, that wouldn't be a fact that he existed or did not exist at all.
Because he and his sleigh aren't seen in the sky isn't a sign Santa doesn't exist. The real things of this world might be things that no one can see. Ever see fairies dancing on your front yard? That's something no human has witnessed, but who can say for certain they don't exist?
There have to be some wonders remaining even today that are yet for us to behold. Take, for instance, tearing apart a baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world, which those with the most strength who ever lived could not tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love and romance can push aside that curtain and view the supernal beauty and glory beyond.
Is the Santa we adored through childhood all real? Ah, Suzie, in all the world and even in the City of Seven Valleys, there is nothing else so real and abiding.
No Santa Claus? Thank God, he lives and lives forever! He'll be around for Barry Countians, I expect that be true, especially for Cassville and Roaring River, for 1,000 years from now Suzie, nay, 10 times 1,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood!
One of my earliest experiences in writing headlines for the newspaper found me with a line that was longer than permitted. So, I substituted Xmas to make the handset type work in the space. That issue had no longer hit the street than the late Rev. Charley VanZandt hit the front door of the office and wanted to see me. The longtime preacher of the Ozarks wanted to correct me, so the error might never happen again, taking Christ out of Christmas.
As only he could do, he explained I had committed a grievous error, and he wanted me to remember that. Let me assure you he was emphatic enough that the shortening never happened again.
Perhaps the world needs this lesson these days, since it would seem that the shortening continues to happen in our deeds and actions.
It's time once again for all those who read this column to have a big chunk of Merry Christmas from all the Mitchell families, as scattered as they might be throughout these United States. It's our hope the true meaning of Christmas will reign in your home and activities on Dec. 25.
Make sure those activities include at least some remembrance of Jesus Christ and the purpose for which he came to this earth on the day we recognize as Christmas.
Bob Mitchell is the former editor and publisher of the Cassville Democrat.