The day we stopped believing

YourLifeChoices writers put on a brave face and remember that fateful day when they had to admit that their parents had not told them the whole truth about Father Christmas.

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Olga Galacho
As a youngster, I was rather ambivalent to the existence of Father Christmas. Growing up surrounded by stories from the Bible, I was quite accepting of the narrative that there were entities out there such as angels and saints, and so on. I understood that even though I could not see them, they had roles to play here on Earth.

And so it was, to my mind, with Papa Noel, as my parents used to call Santa. He was real but invisible … until the day I became suspicious.

One Christmas, I received two sewing baskets. One from under the decorated tree in our living room and the other straight from Santa himself, who was holding court at my father’s workplace Christmas party for employees’ families.

I was livid. Not only did I not have a need for two baskets, but Santa’s screw-up meant that I had missed out on an alternative present. How could he have got that so wrong?

Then there was the year that I saw Santa at two separate locations on the same day and I reckoned it wasn’t the same person because they looked so different. Hmmm, these were imposters, clearly, and not the real Father Christmas.

The nail in the coffin came when some friends in grade two began discussing whether his existence was genuine or not. One girl was adamant that it was our parents who bought the gifts and placed them under the tree when we were asleep.

It got me thinking. So, on Christmas Eve, I forced myself to stay awake to see if I could catch my parents in the act.

It wasn’t long before I could hear them both vigorously walking to and fro around the house, which was unusual after dark. I sneaked out of bed, peered through my bedroom door, and sure enough, across the hallway I could see Mum and Dad arranging presents under the tree. When I brought it up the next day, they laughed.

I wasn’t disappointed there was no real Santa … I never really related to him much. But I was upset that my parents, all parents, perpetuated this stupid myth for no good reason. My children have never believed in Santa, fairies or the Easter Bunny. I didn’t want to set them up for a day when they discovered their illusions were shattered by deceitful parents. We made our ‘magic’ in other ways.

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Ben Hocking
I can’t remember exactly how old I was when I stopped believing in Santa, but I do remember how the day unfolded. We went to church on the night of Christmas Eve: however this wasn’t midnight mass, but one held at around 7pm. Dad ducked out partway through the service – we assumed for a smoke – and met us outside the church for the walk home.

When we arrived home, all our Christmas presents were in place under the Christmas tree on the night before Christmas! I was suspicious, but Dad said that Santa must have known that we were out of the house and picked his moment to deliver the presents.

There was only one major flaw with this logic and that was that it wasn’t dark yet.

Still, being an older brother and not quite wanting to jump off the Santa Claus gravy train just yet, I went along with the story for a few more years.

Now as a parent myself, I understand the expediency of setting up presents that require some serious assembly without wanting to work into the wee hours of Christmas morning.

At the time, however, I found it very difficult to comprehend why my parents just wouldn’t wait until us kids were in bed before putting our presents under the Christmas tree.

•••

Leon Della Bosca
I remember the night. I think I was around seven or eight. I don’t recall not believing in Santa beforehand, but after that night the whole idea of Santa became somewhat convoluted.

I remember putting out the cookies and milk, and some carrots for the reindeer, as we did each Christmas Eve. I remember staying awake to try to catch the jolly man in the act.

At one point, I thought I heard the sounds of Santa. I crept down the hall in the dark, opened the door a crack and saw my mum and dad whispering and putting presents under the tree. I was perplexed, maybe.

I tiptoed back down the hallway to my bedroom and remember being a little confused. The next morning, I can’t remember if I told them that I saw them or if they heard me. I vaguely recall them telling me something about them putting their presents for us under the tree and that Santa had already been or was coming later.

My sister was a couple of years younger than me, so I suppose they wanted to keep the dream alive. I could make it all dramatic, but it was really just a fleeting thing. I’m not sure it even actually changed how I felt about Christmas. I just know that after that year the name-tags on our gifts changed. They were from mum and dad, but there was still always one from Santa.

Do you have a vivid memory of the day you discovered the truth about Santa? Were you upset you had been deceived or were you philosophical about it?

 

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