I don't know exactly how old I was when I stopped believing in Santa. I can't remember a lot of stuff from my childhood. No, I am not repressing anything dramatic or anything like that, I've just got crap memory.
When did I stop leaving a light on while falling asleep, or stop believing that snakes might bite my ass as I sat over the toilet?
Though still painful to recall, I do vaguely remember the moment that solidified my disbelief in Santa.
My mom was frantically wrapping presents one Christmas Eve, at a time when my little sister most definitely still believed in Santa. Visibly flustered and in need of an elf or two, Mom asked me to assist her in wrapping presents. With an elf's enthusiasm and a sugar high to boot, I rushed to her aid.
I did my best to wrap like the people at the mall, but to this day I'm unable to make non-lumpy folds. We put tags and bows on tops of the gifts and Mom gave me permission to say who it was for and who it was from.
She told me that they were all from Santa to my various siblings. My stomach felt like it had taken an invisible reindeer hoof to the gut. And it was at this very moment that I was forced to stop believing in Santa Claus.
I avoided direct eye contact with her, so as not to reveal my surprise or sadness. Little did she know that in one careless sentence she had ended seven-plus years of wishing, believing, and hoping in the magic of Christmas.
I pulled it together rather quickly, and I don't think she even noticed anything different in me that year, but everything was different. I went through the normal stages of grief:
Denial: He is real! How could so many movies be made about him with so many other children convinced of him if he weren't?
Anger: How dare my parents string me along all this years! They've made me look like such a fool.
Bargaining: Let me just have one more year of childlike wonder. I want to be a fool.
Depression: Bah Humbug. Why spend so much money and keep so many secrets for nothing? It's absolutely worthless. (add brandy to the eggnog)
And finally, Acceptance: Santa and I had a good run, we shared great memories and what was real between us was real when it was and nobody can ever take that away. You were a good man Saint Nick, now rest in peace.
When did you stop believing in Santa?
Are you going to string your kids along with the lie while robbing them of the magic?
Or, are you going to be a party-pooper up front while sparing them the heartache later?
Oh yeah, Merry Christmas:)