I learned the truth about Santa Claus in the fourth grade.
Yes, the fourth grade. That means that I was probably ten years old, people.
And it went down in the worst possible way. My fourth-grade teacher had gathered us around her rocking chair so that she could discuss our next writing assignment. We were going to write a personal narrative, she said, about how we found out that Santa Claus wasn’t real.
You can imagine my shock, confusion, and horror at the assignment, given that only seconds before I would have wagered any amount of money that there was a person named Santa who had a bottomless bag of gifts and who visited every child, as long as they were good and believed in him.
Desperate to continue believing—and thus, to keep getting those presents—I held onto my shreds of hope throughout the rest of the school day until my mom told me that of course Santa wasn’t real.
That was also the night that I found out the bad news about the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny.
[I fabricated a story for my personal narrative assignment and made it very, very clear that I had known the truth about Santa for quite some time.]
Despite how I learned the unfortunate news about Santa, it didn’t change how I felt about Christmas: that it was, and is, a magical time of year. I recognize that not everyone feels the same way about Christmas, and I want you to know that I respect that. My own life experiences—being raised in a Christian household, as well as being a privileged child who was spoiled on Christmas morning—have certainly colored my view of the holiday.
But the fact remains that for me, it’s a special, wonderful time of year that does still mean opening presents (I’m an unrepentant present-lover), but more important, gathering with my beloved friends and family and actually investing time in each other. Since my siblings and I began leaving for college my family has been separated geographically, and particularly now that I’m the only person living away, I treasure each moment that I get to spend with them. Even the moments when my son squeezes an entire miniature Hershey’s Bar out of the package and onto his clothes. Even the moments when my Sis and Brother tell Daniel that I am a DQ (Drama Queen) and Daniel agrees. Even the moments when I remember the people who should be here, but who aren’t.
If you celebrate Christmas, I hope that you have the best day ever. And if you don’t celebrate Christmas, I hope that you have the best day ever, too. Whatever your beliefs, I hope that you’re able to enjoy a slower pace and have whatever kind of time you need to re-charge you for the next year.
And if you have children who have reached a suitable age to be told the truth, please do it. I’m just thankful that I had that personal narrative assignment or I might be a 32-year old woman going to bed at 10:00 pm on Christmas Eve so that I wouldn’t keep Santa away.
About the Author
When my toddler and infant sleep--or are otherwise engaged--I write, read, and eat lots of chocolate.