John Burroughs Q of the W: Santa Claus

Vol. 9, pg. 36; Dec. 19, 1886 (morning)

19 Julian said this morning soon after waking up that he felt as if a great change was coming — “as if a great joy was passing away” — he is beginning to doubt the existence of Santa Claus! Poor boy! Such a discovery does leave a void.

Burroughs spends a fair few pages of his journals railing against organized religion in favor of his agnostic, semi-transcendental religious beliefs.  When his son, Julian, first came to doubt the existence of Santa Claus (above), Burroughs followed up with eight straight pages in his journal comparing the belief in Santa to the belief in an anthropomorphic God.  In fact, the majority of the journal is consumed questions of religion and god… nonetheless, even after such persistent argument and refutation of the existence of God in any biblical sense (such ideas, he would say, are the result of mankind’s imaginative childhood), he still found himself trumped at what to do when his own son became and apostate of Ol’ Saint Nick.

Vol. 9, pg. 44; Dec. 19, 1886 (evening)

— The same evening Julian remarked with a sadness that went to my heart, “The world has told a great many lies if there is no Santa Claus; making pictures about him and telling so much about him in books.”

Needless to say, it was a rough Christmas at the Burroughs family home that year.

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