While the above rendition has been significantly adjusted, in general, why would a responsible adult (Francis Church, photo above) go out of his way to fool a child, as was attempted? Well, because everybody does. Clearly, he was espousing a cause for the general public, because the language is way beyond the level of an 8-year old, plus, how many of them read editorial responses to letters, anyway. Church handled all the controversial assignments on the editorial page, especially those dealing with theology. He died in 1906, having had no children, and is best known for authoring the original version featuring Santa Claus of this most famous of editorial responses. Till the end he said that all he did was share the truth. Virginia passed away in 1971 after a fruitful career as an educator. But somewhere along the way, she eventually stopped believing in Santa Claus, I trust, and, perhaps too, God.
I sent this mischievous deed of mine on Christmas Eve of 2004 to some close friends, and there were several dozen. Not one reprimanded me for being sacrilegious and some thought I was being reverential (incredible!), although I suspect most did not bother to read and digest it. There is something about family life combined with religion, perhaps assisted by, maybe, a God gene, that obscures reality. With just the replacement of Santa Claus with God, we can somewhat understand how children grow into adults, but generally maintain a belief in God. What gives?
In December of 2007, USA Weekend provided three modern-day responses to Virginia’s letter, and all three news reporters maintained the charade, although one probably got too philosophical (perhaps he, too, forgetting that he was responding to an 8 year old) with a statement that, yes, there is a Santa Claus, but not that jolly fat man, for he is you and anyone with hope. At least this kind of makes sense.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command operates a Santa tracking web site, and he can be seen on December 24 moving at warp speed from the North Pole first to New Zealand, then eventually to Hawaii. Nearly a billion hits were received from 181 countries in 2005. The Santa Tracking Operations Center, staffed by 500 volunteers, actually received 55,000 calls that year. The number of calls has increased each year, so our youngsters are certainly not getting any smarter. But, then, even I, at that age, could not comprehend the enormity of Santa and his flying reindeers needing to move at several million miles/hour to get the job done in 34 hours (yes, think about it).
Now why would NORAD stoop to all this frivolity? Well, there is a history. It was started by a Sears-Roebuck ad in 1955, with phone number if you wished to talk to Santa. Alas, there was a typo, and the number listed was that of an earlier form of NORAD, the Continental Air Defense Command. All in good fun, and now that we don’t have to worry about missiles from the USSR or North Korea, what harm does this do? Also, the military plays Santa around the world and this gentleman is a symbol of good will and cheer. Plus, he’s a good poster man for God.
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|The September 1993 Israel-PLO Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements provided for a transitional period of Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Under a series of agreements signed between May 1994 and September 1999, Israel transferred to the Palestinian Authority (PA) security and civilian responsibility for Palestinian-populated areas of the West Bank and Gaza. Negotiations to determine the permanent status of the West Bank and Gaza stalled following the outbreak of an intifada in September 2000, as Israeli forces reoccupied most Palestinian-controlled areas. In April 2003, the Quartet (US, EU, UN, and Russia) presented a roadmap to a final settlement of the conflict by 2005 based on reciprocal steps by the two parties leading to two states, Israel and a democratic Palestine. The proposed date for a permanent status agreement was postponed indefinitely due to violence and accusations that both sides had not followed through on their commitments. Following Palestinian leader Yasir ARAFAT's death in late 2004, Mahmud ABBAS was elected PA president in January 2005. A month later, Israel and the PA agreed to the Sharm el-Sheikh Commitments in an effort to move the peace process forward. In September 2005, Israel unilaterally withdrew all its settlers and soldiers and dismantled its military facilities in the Gaza Strip and withdrew settlers and redeployed soldiers from four small northern West Bank settlements. Nonetheless, Israel controls maritime, airspace, and most access to the Gaza Strip. A November 2005 PA-Israeli agreement authorized the reopening of the Rafah border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt under joint PA and Egyptian control. In January 2006, the Islamic Resistance Movement, HAMAS, won control of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). The international community refused to accept the HAMAS-led government because it did not recognize Israel, would not renounce violence, and refused to honor previous peace agreements between Israel and the PA. HAMAS took control of the PA government in March 2006, but President ABBAS had little success negotiating with HAMAS to present a political platform acceptable to the international community so as to lift economic sanctions on Palestinians. The PLC was unable to convene throughout most of 2006 as a result of Israel's detention of many HAMAS PLC members and Israeli-imposed travel restrictions on other PLC members. Violent clashes took place between Fatah and HAMAS supporters in the Gaza Strip in 2006 and early 2007, resulting in numerous Palestinian deaths and injuries. ABBAS and HAMAS Political Bureau Chief MISHAL in February 2007 signed the Mecca Agreement in Saudi Arabia that resulted in the formation of a Palestinian National Unity Government (NUG) headed by HAMAS member Ismail HANIYA. However, fighting continued in the Gaza Strip, and in June, HAMAS militants succeeded in a violent takeover of all military and governmental institutions in the Gaza Strip. ABBAS dismissed the NUG and through a series of Presidential decrees formed a PA government in the West Bank led by independent Salam FAYYAD. HAMAS rejected the NUG's dismissal and has called for resuming talks with Fatah, but ABBAS has ruled out negotiations until HAMAS agrees to a return of PA control over the Gaza Strip and recognizes the FAYYAD-led government. FAYYAD and his PA government initiated a series of security and economic reforms to improve conditions in the West Bank. ABBAS participated in talks with Israel's Prime Minister OLMERT and secured the release of some Palestinian prisoners and previously withheld customs revenue. During a November 2007 international meeting in Annapolis Maryland, ABBAS and OLMERT agreed to resume peace negotiations with the goal of reaching a final peace settlement.|
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