I wonder if most people have a fixed event in time – a moment when they decide they don’t believe in something any more – whether it be Santa Clause, The Tooth Fairy, Christmas, Religion, Global Warming – does something irrefutable happen that changes everything or does it happen gradually? I think it’s probably a little bit of both. Here’s what it looked like for me.
I think on some level that I gradually started to stop believing sometime in middle school but I held out hope as long as possible, long after all my peers probably threw in the towel. Like I wanted to be wise and mature and accept that the magic of Santa probably wasn’t true, but I also kind of wanted to leave one foot in the door just in case. Perhaps this made me a bit dweeby, but to that I say:
I remember one Christmas when I was a young teenager or perhaps a tweenager, but old enough that I think everyone assumed I didn’t believe anymore. I was spending Christmas with my grandparents and I woke up early on Christmas morning and prepared to go bounding downstairs to see what goodies awaited me when my grandmother called out from the bedroom that “Santa wasn’t quite done yet – and that I could wait in my room a little bit if I wanted.”
This brought me to a bit of a dilemma. Do I take the plunge and go downstairs and witness the truth in all it’s bah humbug glory? Do I accept that deep down I already knew that the most magical person in the world at the holidays was the over-tired rock star grandma in the bedroom who tried to keep the magic alive even when her teenage grand daughter probably kept her up late being delightful and young spirited and then woke up early because SQUEALSITSCHRISTMAS!!! Or do I meekly go back to my bedroom and pretend a little longer – on the off chance that Grandma and Santa are like total BFFs who have each other on speed dial and maybe grandma just got off the phone with Saint Nick who was stuck in traffic and totes on his way?
I went back to my bedroom.
And I’ll be honest, a small part of me continued to believe up until the minute that I became a parent and had to put out presents for MM’s first Christmas morning and when I woke up the next morning had to accept the fact that nothing new had appeared and that now I was the over tired rockstar keeping the magic alive.
But you know, maybe he was just stuck in traffic.
7 responses to “Do you believe?”
That was a fun account. I don’t even remember when I learned “The Truth”. I had an older brother, with little filter for spoilers, so Santa didn’t last long.
I believed until I was 9, I think. My parents still had my baby brother to keep the magic alive for, so they did – long after he knew the truth. They never stopped putting the presents under the tree after we went to bed until we all moved out for good. I’ll keep doing that for my own kids, even though keeping up the facade of Santa turned out to be a burden I didn’t enjoy as a parent.
I think I was around 4th or 5th grade and it was just like you said. People started assuming I knew and my friends and siblings were all sort of in agreement so I went along with it. I hung on for as long as possible though!
I think it’s a change that happens gradually. I was still pretty young, though…
I don’t remember either but I am sure I was one of the hold outs that believed as long as I could. And my parents were amazing to keep the dream alive for us kids as long as possible. I am trying to do the same for my kids.
I don’t remember when I found out about Santa. I think my brother told my sister and I the truth when we were pretty young, so I don’t remember really believing or being sad when I found out. Santa is still fun even when you know he’s not real. And it’s kind of fun to be Santa, although I feel really bad lying to my son about it.
I do remember when I stopped believing in God though. I was coming on gradually for years, but after reading Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer about the Mormon church, I was finished with Christianity and God in general. I finally had to concede that Christianity was just as man-made as the Church of Latter Day Saints.
haha, love this recount. I wish I had the belief, but one night when I was 4, I pretended to sleep with my eyes closed, hoping to spot Santa, only to find out that it was my grandad who put Miss Piggy under my pillow (we didn’t have a tree, so christmas presents were always placed right next to us kids).