Happy Holidays! I’m Derek Miller, with the Salt Lake Chamber and Downtown Alliance, and on behalf of our leaders, staff, and members across the state, I wish you all the best during this wonderful time of year.

One hundred and thirty-four years ago, one of the most famous editorials ever written appeared in The New York Sun. It was published in response to a question from an eight-year-old named Virginia O’Hanlon and shared the spirit of what makes this season so bright.

Troubled by friends who challenged the existence of Santa Claus, little Virginia wrote: “Papa says, ‘If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.’ Please tell me the truth: Is there a Santa Claus?”

To her question, the editorial board replied: “Virginia, your friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe, except what they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds.” The editors wrote that when contrasted with the majesty of our universe, “all minds are little,” as they cannot see intangible but certain truths like “love, generosity, and devotion.” Yet, these qualities abound and give life its highest beauty and joy.

“Alas,” the editors answered, “how dreary would be the world if there was no Santa Claus? There would be no childlike faith, no poetry, no romance… We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight.” The Sun admitted that “Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see.”

This is what we celebrate this season. No matter our culture, faith, or tradition at this time of year we come together in common appreciation of the things we cannot see but that are absolute, true, and most meaningful. These include our sense of community, our joy in service, our care for those in need, and the warm security we feel in trust, friendship, and love. Real but unseen, these powerful impressions not only inspire but see us through our most difficult and challenging times.

With friends and family, we feel the blessings that have sustained us these past two years as we have worked to sustain each other. Out of adversity, we have grown and been inspired by the examples of those around us – each made stronger by what we give away. At the Salt Lake Chamber and Downtown Alliance, we have seen these stories, and we will make sure they are told, because it is in the telling that we write our first draft for the future.

As The New York Sun advised Virginia, we must rise above skepticism and the division it engenders to embrace joy in the things we know and feel but cannot see. And each of us can do that by caring for others. As we enter this special season, programs abound that allow us to serve one another – from Candy Cane Corner that feeds the hungry and provides toys for children, to the Festival of Trees that benefits the Primary Children’s Hospital. We can support the Utah Food Bank Holiday Food & Fund Drive or donate to our Leadership Utah Cohort that collects canned goods, hats, gloves, and scarfs for those who need them most.

To learn how you can participate in these programs and others, please visit our website. There, you will find a list of many ways in which you can support our community, including shopping local for the holidays. While we encourage you to use resources and services that best meet your needs, we remind you that small businesses are vital to the communities they serve, and this season, it’s more important than ever to support them. When we shop local, almost 70 cents of every dollar remain in our community. And that benefits those who are closest to home – those who make Utah a rich tapestry of diverse and vibrant individuals and families, united and growing together.

Whether we celebrate the season with Santa Claus (like little Virginia), the meaning of the Menorah, Dawali’s festival of lights, the Kinara of Kwanzaa, or any other way special to you and your family, we are reminded that each represents the celebration of unseen values and collective principles that elevate this special time of year. It is a season that brings out our better angels – a time of thanksgiving for the intangible truths that bind all people of goodwill and give life its highest beauty and joy.

Happy holidays from all of us at the Salt Lake Chamber and Downtown Alliance. We wish you our very best for a wonderful new year!