Reader, two questions before you peruse further: Are you a dozen years of age or younger? And, where do you stand on Santa Claus?
If you answered yes to the first, and a solid “he’s the man” to the second, please put this down and never look back. But also? Kudos on your newspaper reading habit.
The large man in the red and white suit? He of the years-long refusal to shave? The one who promises to bring your dreams to life circa Dec. 25? He’s not, shall we say, real. But you know that. Or, at least, some of you do. Others staunchly refuse to surrender their belief in the man of the hour or, at least, the spirit of the season.
How old were you when you were first made aware of the Great Santa Claus Ruse? How was it revealed? Did you cry? Or did you shrug your shoulders and say, “Eh, so be it,” because something always seemed a little fishy about the big guy?
Posing these questions on social media revealed the often memorable day people were ushered from the sweet naivety of their preadolescence to the harsh reality of the real world.
• “I was a very late bloomer (like sixth grade.) I attribute this to my single mom always making Christmas so amazing (I mean, clearly my mom couldn’t afford all if it on her own...).” — Stephanie Meyer James
• “I was seven and my dad had gone into the bedroom and locked the door and told me not to come in. Of course, I then had to know what was going on so I looked under the door and saw him assembling a bike. Said electric blue bike was waiting for me Christmas morning from Santa.” — Kristy Webster Carlson
• “I had an older sister who made sure I never believed in Santa!” — Mark Arnest
• “I was a total believer until I was eight. Then I saw the same card in my mother’s card box that she sent me from Santa. I didn’t say a word. All my mother said was, “Oh, sorry love.” End of fantasy. Isn’t it funny how we still remember that?” — Susanna Kelland
• “Can’t recall how old I was when my mom told me Santa wasn’t real. But then she explained the ‘spirit’ behind the story. The spirit of giving. The spirit of faith in something you can’t physically see or touch. Faith in the mystery. Faith in the story. And I still believe in that.” — Tim Bergsten
• “Eight or nine years of age, the year Mom forgot about the price stickers. About a month after Christmas I saw a Sears price tag on a board game box that I knew Santa had brought to me. I then went searching for price stickers on a few other Santa items, and found them on those, as well. I put two and two together. Goodbye, Santa. But I really think Santa still lives within us all.” — Sean Patrick Anglum
• “I was playing hide and seek with my brother after Christmas. I hid in a closet in the basement and found the box for the Barbie dream house I had gotten that Christmas. It had a price tag from Target and Santa makes his toys, so the jig was pretty much up. I was seven. So the next Christmas, I was in my parent’s room waiting for my brother to wake up and I asked my mom over and over. There really is no Santa, is there? She kept trying different answers, but knew I wasn’t buying it. She finally came out and said it and I bawled my eyes out, even though I already thought I knew. The finality of the news broke my heart. I still tell my kids that I believe in the magic of Santa.” — Anne Loecker Koster
• “I held out till about seven or eight. The neighbor kids kept asking me who Santa Claus was and I would say St. Nick. Then they would ask me who St. Nick was and I would say Santa Claus. That went on for a few days. But I do still believe in the Candy Bird. But that’s another story.” — Deb Komitor
• “I was raised in a religious cult (Jehovah’s Witnesses) that didn’t believe in Santa or Christmas so I grew up without that magic.” — Samantha Mierau
• “I don’t remember exactly how old I was, but probably at least 10. My little brother had been trying to tell me there was no Santa, that it was mom, probably for years. But the confirmation came when Santa brought me a bike for Christmas. The handle bars came off and I asked my mom if she knew how to put them back on. She said of course she did, she’s who assembled it in the first place. But, I thought it was from Santa.” — Katie Gwen O’Hare
• “I think I was ten. My dad was pissed off at me about something I did or didn’t do, and said, ‘Santa Claus isn’t bringing you anything this year! Because I’m Santa Claus, you little devil!’” — Don Goede
• I was eight. I was lurking at the top of the stairs on Christmas Eve when I heard my older (16-year-old) brother telling my dad he had the bike put together except for the handlebars.” — Laurel Campbell
• “I was in fourth grade. I saw two Strawberry Shortcake Sleeping bags in a room in the basement next to where my sister and I sometimes played. On Christmas morning, the sleeping bags were in big, red, plastic bags with snowflakes on them with a tag on them that said “From Santa.” Busted. The worst part is I wrecked it for my younger sister Steph, two years my junior. I still don’t think she has forgiven me.” — Jen Baumgardner Barnes
• “Some of my family members were always upfront about Santa not existing. Because I’m a contrarian, I spent a great deal of the Christmases of my single digit youth trying to prove them otherwise. When they couldn’t be convinced, I threw in the towel and conceded.” — Yves Sturdevant
Contact the writer: 636-0270