(Spoiler alert: If you believe that ol’ St. Nick is real, then read no further. Oh, and don’t read the headline).
The Today Show and Parenting Magazine are teaming up to survey parents on Christmas traditions, including when to tell a kid that Santa isn’t real.
My memory is vivid.
I was 6 when I learned the truth, living in Haltom City, playing catch with my friend Donald in his parents’ front yard on a cold December day. Christmas was just around the corner.
“I can’t wait for Santa to come,” I said.
Donald laughed and said, “Santa isn’t real.”
“What do you mean?” I said.
“There’s no such thing as Santa Claus, it’s just a story that parents tell kids,” said Donald, who was 6 as well but apparently quite a bit smarter than me.
That “whacking” sound was me barreling into my best buddy and knocking him down, following with a torrent of punches. Donald cried and ran inside his house.
I was in shock. I couldn’t believe that my best friend had practically killed Santa before my eyes. I trudged home, sad I’d made Donald cry, but feeling justified nonetheless.
Mom noticed my gloominess and asked what was wrong.
“Donald told me Santa wasn’t real and so I beat him up,” I said.
“Oh, Jeff, you shouldn’t have done that,” she said. “You need to go apologize.”
“But he says Santa isn’t real!”
“He’s right,” she said. “Santa isn’t real. It’s time you learned that.”
I was shocked, disappointed, confused. I went to my bedroom, thought awhile, and came to terms with the situation. It was okay that Santa wasn’t real. Accepting it seemed like my first big step toward becoming a grown up. To celebrate, I went to the kitchen and made myself a scotch neat (just kidding about that last part).
Donald never got his apology. But that’s what’s cool about being a kid — you can beat up a friend and not apologize but still be friends the next day.
I’d be interested in hearing from you about how you learned Santa wasn’t real, and whether or not it prompted an aggravated assault.