Did you believe in Santa Claus?
I never did; it just wasn’t part of our family traditions, since my parents didn’t push the Santa story. I don’t remember them ever specifically saying there was no Santa, but they never ever told us he was real or even suggested that he might be. It was really kind of a non-issue – I knew Santa Claus was a myth some families did when their kids were little, but our family wasn’t one of them.
We did do some of the Santa traditions, even if we all openly acknowledged that there was no actual Santa. For years, my dad would put out little black paper footprints leading from the fireplace to the tree, and we occasionally got gifts marked as “From Santa.” But those gifts were always something completely non-thrilling like a three-pack of underwear or new white gym socks. Santa got no credit for big gifts; that was all from my parents.
We also usually put out cookies for Santa (no milk, since we only ever had powdered milk and not even a make-believe man would drink that gross stuff). One year, a neighbor gave each of us three girls a giant plastic bear filled with frosted animal cookies and we soon grew sick of them. On Christmas Eve, we each got a plate and dumped the remaining cookies on them and set them out for Santa (each plate must have had at least a hundred little cookies). I was never so relieved to see an empty plate the next morning.
I do remember specifically that my parents warned us that most other kids did believe in Santa and that were not to tell other kids that Santa wasn’t real. I frankly liked the feeling of knowing the truth when other kids were totally buying into the falsehoods, and I’m also glad to have avoided the crushing disappointment so many kids had when they realized Santa wasn’t real. Christmas stayed magical and mysterious to me for years and years, since I never had a moment where I realized all my Christmas fantasies were based on something that was not true.
Bart did believe in Santa Claus for a while until an older cousin said something about it being fake and his aunt, who had overheard, gave his cousin the evil eye. Bart took that as confirmation of the truth of what his cousin had told him.
Anyway, I have no plans to tell our kids that Santa is real (although I too will warn them on punishment of death about bursting other kids’ bubbles); I just have no desire to fib to my kids and then struggle to make them keep believing even when they start to realize that “hmm, this makes absolutely zero sense at all.” And I don’t want them heartbroken when they realize Santa is not real and can’t understand why I insisted for years that he was.
Am I a total cold-hearted, Christmas-ruining monster? You decide.