Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.
A newspaper man in 1897 wrote those lines in what became one of the most reprinted editorials in the history of print. Francis Pharcellus Church, answered an 8 year old girl who wrote him asking:
“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?
Over 112 years later, someone who has a very special place at Two Mile wrote on her Facebook status update:
(Name) can’t even read the blogs at this point. Everyone is negative, everyone is finding fault with some group or another, everyone hates someone or something … the government is busily screwing everyone … we’re being manipulated by retailers to buy, buy, buy when the whole country is broke, broke, broke … Merry effin’ Christmas.
I’ll refer to her as my “Facebook friend” and she and her partner live quite a distance from Two Mile Ranch. Her gifts and emails have made such a difference in the daily life here that I took her comments to heart. I wondered if I, too, agreed, with what she writes. And yes, much of what she shares is true of the blog-o-sphere. Many days, I look at my life through the same “smudge colored glasses”, seeing only the bad, the broken, and the criminal of life.
So many of us wrestle with our demons during 11 months of the year, and in this tough year, its hard not to let the demons rule all 12 months.
The view from the big cabin
But if I could give a Christmas gift to my Facebook Friend, I would invite her and her partner to Two Mile for the day. We’d begin letting Zinger out for a morning run. Zinger, the Aussie Shepard, has the breed quirk of curling her lip and bearing her teeth in an adorable smile first thing in the morning, when I see a smile like that, it’s hard to think about double digit unemployment.
Then, we’d go to the chicken coop, let the girls out to roam in the snow and collect fresh eggs for breakfast. We’d pause for a moment, and I’d be thankful for another friend who encouraged me in the chicken raising. If not for the encouragement, I might have waited another year, and missed the fun and rewards of chickens.
Next, we’d move on to the duck pen, to feed the 9 ducks and let them out to wander to the pond. In tribute to the Clement Clarke Moore poem, we could call them by name, “On Liberace, On Billy Ray” and so on….. the duck known as “Sweetie”, who I later came to find out was really named “Hillary”, could eat from our hands before quacking (being the loud and bossy one) down behind the others to the open water of the pond.
During the day, we could explore the back 60 acres, looking at ways to improve the game bird habitat and expand and restore the pasture. The gently rolling hills are now depleted of nutrients from 18 years of sitting idle in a CRP program. The future of making this land better and sustainable lies in the next 5 years of work. There is a mile or two of fences to fix to help keep grass fed beef and goats safe and in line. My friends are encouraging me and we’re talking about ways we can both use the pasture to grow our small ideas into bigger and better sustainable ones. We both want to raise grass fed beef and perhaps certify the pasture as organic. There is much work to do and we really won’t “partner” as much as work side by side. There is so much opportunity and promise for the future.
If we’re lucky, we’ll see some of the pheasants released this season. I know where a few tend to hide out during the day.
Over coffee and tea in the afternoon, we could share stories about favorite friends. Those who we’ve stayed close with, and other friendships we wish to mend. Friendships, too, are often strained during tough times, and as we grow older, we lose half of them every 7 years or so.
There might even be a discussion about how to balance the pleasures of solitary small farm living with the importance of social connectedness.
Finally, as the sun drops behind the western hill during this string of shortest days of the year, the single Christmas tree, which has been lighted every year on the end of the dock, in the middle of the small pond, would add festive colors to the snow and ice over the pond, and up the hill to the cabin.
A passing neighbor will probably honk once or twice as they head off to holiday activities, or the chili super fund raiser for the local emergency crew in town.
But also, knowing my Facebook friend, the rush of holiday sentimentality and warmth in her heart will also be tempered by enough humor, that the day would end something like
I heard them exclaim as they drove out of sight, “Merry effin’ Christmas to all, and to all a good night”
With friends like that, I have to agree with Francis Church, yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.