Dear English Gentleman,
Is there such a thing as true, unconditional love?
Ah, Virginia. In 1897 a child with your same name asks if there is a Santa Claus, but as an adult your question, transformed, is no less important, is it? Because they are, in a way, the same question, are they not?
And is the answer much different? In 1897 The New York’s Sun editor Francis Pharcellus Chuch wrote: “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.”
Well, does it? Does true love abound? In his famous answer, Church also wrote: “VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. 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.”
A child loves like a child: expectant, it must receive what it cannot yet give, she believes, because faith and innocence is all she has. But a child also waits to be taken care of by another, because innocent and young and small they cannot take care of someone else.
An adult knows better, he has seen and been battered, disillusioned, and often led astray in life. But an adult also has gained experience, and if capable has made choices that transform this experience into wisdom and beauty. If you’re asking this question, my suspicion is you have not actually seen your Santa Claus with your very own eyes. But every adult knows, where Santa Claus is found on Christmas Eve.
True love is not something you find like presents under the tree on Christmas morning. True love does not depend on whether you were a good little girl or boy this year. True love is not something that comes to you or finds you if you’re somehow patient enough, lucky enough, or diligent in searching enough. True love is something you give.
Virginia, the answer to whether true love exists is within you, just like Christmas and joy and devotion and Santa Claus is within all of us, as Church most artfully implied.
Does true love exist? I think this is not the question that matters. The question is: do you have true love to give? If you do, then it exists, and you’ve seen it, you need no more proof than that.
Virginia, dear reader, I wish every one of you a happy Christmas and an inexhaustible supply of love to give.
The English Gentleman.