Over a century ago, eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon wrote a letter to the New York paper The Sun asking if the rumors she heard regarding Santa Claus were true. Editor Francis Church’s now legendary response is still widely read today, as even 117 years later, it holds up pretty well. At least to me, anyway.

For today’s youth, on the other hand, coming up in an age of unprecedented surveillance and information it’s got to be even harder to maintain belief in a magical man with flying reindeer sneaking into their homes at night to deliver presents.

And so history repeats itself, but this time with newspapers on the decline, a sixth-grade child using the handle tikuwa_0913 turned to Yahoo! Japan Answers for more information on Jolly old Saint Nick.

The following is a translation of tikuwa’s post, which was made on 13 December, 2013 but has this week caught the attention of thousands of net users in Japan.

I think there is a Santa.
But, I don’t understand what people mean when they say he doesn’t.
Santa has been doing his work since before television.
Santa gives me presents that my parents totally wouldn’t give me.

How do reindeer fly?
That’s a good question…

How does Santa get into my home?
Mom says she leaves the door unlocked for him.

If I leave a letter to Santa by my pillow, the next day there is a matching reply. But it’s in perfect English.
My mom and dad can’t write in English.

There’s also the question how come no one ever recorded Santa flying around.

Could someone please tell me more?

By the way I’m in sixth grade.

The next day a response came from a user by the name of test_pilot_af.

There is a Santa.

Putting aside – for the time being – all the details of there being not only a first Santa Claus but many other generations of Santa, there certainly is a Santa.

However, recently it’s a lot more common that the presents you get don’t involve Santa directly. The days of Santa making toys in his workshop and carrying them around were a long time ago and the times have changed since then.

First off, Santa doesn’t enter your home. He doesn’t come down your chimney or through unlocked doors. He’ll meet your parents at the front door and hand them the present which they will then put by your bed. He knows it’s wrong to enter a home without permission.

But more importantly, things that kids want have become “marketed products” such as “that toy that says such-and-such” or “this-and-that video game” or mobile phone or iPod. These kinds of things aren’t made by Santa any more.

However, there are many companies that think “If Santa can’t make these things then we will do it for him,” and other companies who are able to deliver them to your home anywhere in the country on behalf of Santa.
In other words, that present you wake up to is all done by people who say “I’ll do it for Santa.” There are almost no parts of this process that Santa has any direct involvement in.

So the incredible power that it takes to do Santa’s job is actually done in small parts by many, many people doing their own roles bit by bit. 

I’m afraid the whole thing people say about the flying reindeer is not real anymore.

You might find this news a bit sad, but the fact is many children are more interested in marketed products now than what Santa makes. It’s a change in the times that I don’t think we can’t stop.

I can say this, though: the people making gifts instead of Santa are doing it thinking “I hope this makes someone very happy.” The people delivering the gift are also thinking “I hope the person receiving this will really like it.” And certainly the person putting it by your bedside is hoping for your happiness.

Rather than a single Santa bringing you joy, your gift is now brought to you by a whole bunch of people thinking about your happiness as well as for other children to be happy. And that’s really truly great.

Later on, when you’re bigger, you might become a substitute Santa yourself. If you get a chance to join that other side which brings happiness please make the most of it. It’s a really wonderful opportunity.

We’ll probably never know whether test_pilot_af’s words resonated with tikuwa_0913 or not, but issues regarding Santa aside it does provide the rest of us with some food for thought regarding how we think about our jobs and how they can positively affect people we may never even actually meet.

Source: Yahoo! Japan Chiebukuro (Japanese)
Image: Wikipedia – Taisyou