Sappy in time for the holidays

ReAnne Utemark

The holiday decorations in the Union and the stupid Macy’s commercial got me thinking about the column that responded to Virginia’s question about Santa Claus. She wrote to the New York Sun in 1897 and asked if there was a Santa Claus. She doubted because her little classmates told her that Santa was not real. She wrote that her father told her that anything in the Sun was true, so, she pleaded with the Sun to tell her the truth: is there a Santa Claus?

This particular story and the response warms my heart during this time of year because firstly, the “gotcha media” isn’t so bad after all and secondly, that someone in the newspaper business could write something so iconic that it inspired Christmas spirit for over 100 years after its publication. It also made me think about Santa.

In a time of the unsure economy, foreign policy and how Change is going to affect us, it is important to remember the giving spirit that pervades the cold air during December. Not just the giving spirit that comes from retailers trying desperately to save their holiday sales and offering massive discounts to a population struggling to make ends meet.

For me, the iRead author of Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Journey to Promote Peace…One School at a Time, Greg Mortenson, personified this giving spirit. He seemed unsure on stage, a place where he did not seem most comfortable, but he did it out of a desire to promote his mission and connect with people. One thing that was most fantastic was Mortenson’s support for the transformational experience, which he witnessed during the Day of Transformation in Mabee Library. He said that students have returned to the ideologies of their 1970s counterparts in greater numbers in the desire to make serious changes to the world around them. The economic situation then was much the same it is now and when no one has much, sharing becomes more important. In a tumultuous world, the best attitude is that it can get better with the work of those who care. I agree that those who work to help their fellow humans can change the world for the better.

It is my sincere hope that this holiday season is not marred by the turbulent world around us, but strengthened by the human spirit and the overwhelming desire to help your fellow person.

Until I can match up to my newsman predecessor’s word craftsmanship, I will borrow some of his.

Yes, my fellow Ichabods, there is a Santa Claus, his spirit exists in people like Greg Mortenson, who kept a promise to a young Pakistani girl. He exists in Washburn students who want to help the global community get clean water while also helping small Kansas towns rebuild into “green” cities. He exists in the students, staff and faculty who put some money aside and take an angel from the giving tree and provide a gift for an underprivileged child.

He also exists in the idea that there is hope after finals week and that you will get done with that massive paper with your sanity intact.