“Yes, Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus” was released in 1991. It stars Richard Thomas, Ed Asner, and Charles Bronson.
To read my review click here. I want to warn you this blog entry contains spoilers.
Inspired by the famous 1897 editorial that has become a holiday staple, Yes Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus tells the story of young Virginia O'Hanlan.
Why do I think this movie is special? It manages to give us a glimpse of another time while staying family friendly in the same way Little House On The Prairie is.
There are two stories going at the same time. The first is the O’Hanlan family and all the people around them. It shows a glimpse of what life would be like for an Irish family in the 1890s. The poverty, the struggle to find work, and the prejudices. It also shows the love the family has for each other and their friends and neighbors.
The other is the life of Francis Church who lost his wife about a year ago. He’s a newspaper reporter working for his editor, Edward Mitchell. Francis has developed a drinking problem. He struggles with the fact that he was gone traveling so often for work and wasn’t even there with his wife when she passed. I know so many of us have times in our lives where something happens that tests our coping mechanisms and we sometimes make poor choice. In Church’s case, Mitchell is there for him to help him. It’s nice to see someone care enough to overstep but to guide gently and let Church get things back in order with his pride intact.
The whole concept of the true story of Virginia O’Hanlan is just lovely. I love that an 8-year-old girl wanted to believe in Santa so badly, despite her friends saying he didn’t exist. Writing to a newspaper and having them reply is just magical. I can only imagine that young girl reading that paper and seeing it read that there is a Santa Claus. How amazing that must have felt for her.
While the story of Virginia writing to the editor and the editor replying is true, a lot of the surrounding story is fictional to create an interesting movie. According to one biography, her father was a doctor as opposed to the poor man searching for work in the movie.
I really love seeing life before TV, radio, and technology separated us. People really focused on each other. I think this is not only a great family movie but it could open communication about history and maybe spark an interest in it in a child.
If you haven’t seen it I hope you give it a try. If you have, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the movie. Happy Viewing!