Readers continue the popular thread:
I remember the moment I knew for a fact that Santa wasn’t real. All my life, Santa used different wrapping paper than my mom. Gifts from my parents were in one style and Santa’s gifts looked completely different. One July, when I was 11 or 12, I was helping my mom clean out the garage and I came across Santa’s wrapping paper. I was old enough that I had a good idea that Santa wasn’t real, but I remember the look my mom and I exchanged. Mom said, “Well, that’s that. Don’t tell your little sister.” And I didn’t.
The next Christmas, when Santa used the special paper again, I felt like I was in on some big secret. I knew the truth! My sister figured it out logically a year later. She was 8. I am clearly the slow one of the family.
Another’s reason for disbelief was pretty simple:
Santa had the same handwriting as my parents.
I had been suspecting Santa was a myth for a few years, but when I was 10 I cornered my dad because he somehow couldn’t lie to me when asked a straight question. (As an 8 year old who had just finished D.A.R.E., I caught him burning incense and smoking, I thought, a cigarette. Being the smart ass I was, I asked, “are you smoking marijuana?” His answer was, “Yes, don’t tell your mother.” I didn’t.)
I asked him if Santa was real, and he told me no – it was him and my mom. To this day he says my face dropped, my heart broke, and that he’s always regretted telling me. I remember it differently. I remember being glad he told me the honest truth and didn’t keep lying to me like all the other adults. Of course I WANTED Santa to be real, I still do! That’d be awesome! But I had already found their stash of presents and he was just confirming what I already knew.
I should probably keep this to myself, but what the Hell:
I held on to a belief in Santa until an embarrassingly late age. I may have been as old as 12, certainly over 10, but either way much too old to still be believing in Santa. I don’t recall arguing with other kids who told me the truth, just an iron-clad confidence they were wrong. Besides, I remain to this day much too gullible and trusting.
I was in the kitchen with my mother when my oldest sister, who was six years older than me, walked into the kitchen and asked my mother for help writing a paper for school about the reaction children have upon learning that Santa is not real. I was stunned and crestfallen. I responded with “you could just watch me” or something to that effect and left the room.
I wasn’t angry at my parents or siblings for allowing me to continue to hold onto such a childish belief. I was more embarrassed that I had allowed myself to believe in such a ridiculous idea for so long. The Santa concept falls apart even under mild questioning that it was deflating to think I had never pressed it.
Another can relate:
I love this thread, please keep it up! Like several others have mentioned, I also believed in Santa for a longer time than I probably should have. I, too, hung on due to some clever lies from my parents and my certainty of their own human nature.
My first picture with Santa from my first Christmas was actually my dad in a Santa suit. I of course didn’t know that at the time, and I guess when “Santa” was holding me, being an 8 month old, I grabbed his beard and PULLED. Out came a tuft of rental Santa beard fluff, and my parents saved it in one of those hinging jewelry boxes.
When I started to doubt Santa at an early age due to some school kids who brought me to tears by telling the truth, my parents pulled out my picture with Santa and the beard fluff as proof of his existence. That’s all I needed to defend Santa for years: “I have a piece of his beard!” (By the way, Andrew, to this day I have profound respect for beards and love that my husband has one.)
I found out when I was eight. I don’t recall exactly what tipped me off, probably the logistical impossibility of visiting so many kids on a single night. Whatever my reasoning, I confronted my mother with my suspicions and, after some hemming and hawing about it, she finally admitted the truth. Far from being disappointed, I was indignant that I had been lied to, not only by my parents but every other adult, as well. This was an injustice that had to be remedied.
So the next day at school, my teacher started saying something about Santa. I raised my hand, and proudly informed everyone in my third grade class what I had learned. I honestly thought (1) they would be happy to learn the truth and (2) they would be as upset with adults as I was. This is not what happened.
Every single kid in my class, including my best friend, Jimmy, was outraged, all right, but not with our teacher, their parents, and every other lying adult, but with me. Pretty much everyone in class started yelling at once, saying I was wrong, stupid, etc. I had to be sent out of the room so the teacher could placate my classmates, probably by telling them I was a kook and of course Santa is real.
I was flabbergasted. I thought I would be hailed as a hero for uncovering the sordid truth, but instead I was a pariah. No one played with me at recess that day, nor for a number of days thereafter. Jimmy and I finally reconciled after I made some mealy-mouthed concession about how I was wrong and there really was a Santa Claus. Everyone else eventually forgot about it after Christmas passed, but I never did. Third grade was a long time ago, but I can still see the hateful looks on their little faces after I spouted off about Santa.
I can’t say this changed my life or anything, but it was a pretty damn good lesson about human nature, though it took me a few years to fully absorb that. But now that I have kids of my own, I’m all in on filling their heads full of Santa nonsense. So clearly I didn’t learn that lesson.
Another confronted another kind of spite:
Back in the early 1950s, I was in kindergarten and a neighbor girl who was a couple of years older offered to help me write to Santa. We were upstairs in my house, both writing our letters, and she misspelled “from” as “form”. Even then I was a stickler for accuracy, so I informed her that she had misspelled it. Probably irked at being corrected by a younger child, she snapped back, “So what! There’s no Santa Claus anyway – it’s your parents.”
I rushed downstairs to check with my mother, but as soon as I heard my neighbor’s words, I knew they were true. My mom’s face (probably a long time before she thought she would have to confront this question) just confirmed it.
Another reader ends on a brighter note:
My sister did it the best way. Her son was simply not disbelieving despite being like 10 years old – way too old to still believe in Santa. So last Christmas Eve, she woke him up at 2am and told him: “I have something to tell you. Me and your Dad are Santa Claus. He’s not real. But we have exciting news! Now, YOU get to be Santa for your little sister.”
And my nephew has kept that secret now. And he relishes his role as his sister’s secret-keeper.