That is the question.
Here’s an article about people who either grew up without Santa or decided not to foist the belief on their own kids. Their stories vary. But I’ve got a story, too.
When I was a small child I believed in Santa. That is, I did until one night when I was four, when my seven-year-old brother decided to have a little fun with me.
He called me to his room and went over to the window, pointed up at the sky and told me with great excitement that he could see Santa’s sleigh. “Right there!” he said, and pointed again, up and over to the left.
I looked and looked and looked, straining with every fiber of my being to see. Maybe the sled was very high up and looked very small? But try as I might, no Santa.
“Don’t you see him?” my brother asked. “Right there!” he said, pointing again with great insistence.
But it was no go. It was just the sky, the stars, and the moon, looking as they always had.
Finally he said dropped the act and intoned, “Actually, you’re not going to see Santa, because there is no Santa. He’s just pretend.”
“No!” I shrieked. I was used to his teasing, but this was going too far. No Santa? How absurd.
Outraged, I ran to my mother, wailing, “He told me there’s no Santa! Make him stop!”
Now, I suppose my mother had a choice. She could either claim he was wrong and perpetuate the Santa myth for a while, or reluctantly and prematurely tell me the truth. I don’t know which would have been better, but she chose the latter.
I must say the news was a bitter disappointment. And I did feel a sense of betrayal; why had they lied to me in the first place?
If I’d been older, or if the revelation had been less traumatic, I don’t think the whole thing would have bothered me. But this particular memory was sharp enough that, when I became a mother myself, although we spoke to our son about Santa we didn’t over-empathize it. Gifts at the holiday time came from people; Santa was someone you went to see at the mall. Oh, and we did have a tradition of reading aloud “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” every Christmas Eve. That seemed to be just about the right amount of Santa for us.
Ho, ho, ho!