When Did You Learn About Santa?

 

I was a true believer in Saint Nick. After all, I had seen him with my own two eyes. One of my earliest memories was seeing the bearded one parading through our townhouse, clad in red and white, shouting “Ho! Ho! Ho!”

My sister and brother, older than me by three and five years respectively, were thrilled beyond belief. Four-year-old Jon-Jon was screaming in terror, hiding behind the second-floor banister. No idea why I reacted that way. I sat in Santa’s lap at the mall every year without issue and I was very pro-gift.

Seeing St. Nick in my own home still freaked me out. But at least I knew he was very, very real. As the youngest child, my family was determined to keep it that way.

In fourth grade, around October, the lovely teacher who I had a crush on (what’s up, Mrs. Musco?) casually dropped, “None of you believe in Santa Claus anymore, right?”

Two or three boys laughed as they yelled “no.” The rest of us looked around in confusion and distress. Who the heck was sliding down our chimney and leaving us gifts? Who ate those cookies we set out and left a handwritten note? Was our entire childhood a lie? Then I got distracted by Mrs. Musco’s blonde hair and blue eyes. “I’m going to marry that woman one day.”

Doubt marred that Christmas. I didn’t want to stop believing in the jolly old elf; he was the one who made the season so exciting. If I became a heretical non-believer, would Santa even give me presents? Christmas Eve, it all came to a head. I was convinced I’d get a literal lump of coal and confessed to my mom I was stuck on the naughty list.

Mom was utterly confused, reassuring me that wasn’t the case. I didn’t dare admit I doubted Mr. Kringle, so she couldn’t figure out my existential crisis.

By next Christmas, it was all over. I’d figured out that my parents left the gifts, Dad ate the cookies, and he was the “Santa” who terrified me with a home visit. Poor guy.

From then on, Christmas lost its enchantment. Just family members swapping gifts with no hint of the supernatural. I still enjoyed it, but it became more of a regular holiday like Halloween or Thanksgiving.

The worst part? I never married Mrs. Musco. (Might have been for the best. When, years later I told my mom what she said, she was livid.)

When did you learn about Santa, Ricochetti, and how did you react to the news?

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  1. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    Well, thanks to you, just now. And no, I’m not taking it well!

    • #1
  2. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    I don’t, and your teacher was probably a bit insensitive.  

    It’s a shame no one comes along and tells everyone the same thing about god, because they’re exactly the same thing.

    • #2
  3. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    Mrs. Musco sounds like the wicked witch. Why would you want to marry her?

    • #3
  4. OmegaPaladin Moderator
    OmegaPaladin
    @OmegaPaladin

    Not sure – although I figured that Santa must have warp drive and an atomic rocket sled pretty early on.  I mean, Europe is really really far away, and the USA is really big.  He also had to have a transporter or something since my house didn’t have a chimney.  I mean, I figured my Dad would just write his name on the presents if he was buying them.

    Thus, there was no clear breaking point – I still got presents labeled as from Santa into college.  In essence, it is like going to a play or renaissance fair – suspension of disbelief. 

    • #4
  5. She Member
    She
    @She

    I don’t remember.  I’m not sure whether, in everyone else’s eyes, that means my mother did a fabulous job, or that my mother did a terrible job.

    All I know is that the magic of my childhood Christmases is profound.  That every year, I went to sleep on Christmas Eve, knowing that something very special was going to happen on the next day.  And when I woke up, it had!  There was a pillowcase at the bottom of my bed, with some lovely, but simple and inexpensive, presents in it.  It wasn’t about the money, or the greed.  It was about the excitement and the magic.

    My mother had a gift when it came to selecting presents for her children.  And although she was a difficult and problematic woman, yea, even unto the early years of our recollections of her, Christmas and birthdays were very, very, special.

    The religious aspects of Christmas, she wasn’t, to be honest, all that great at.  That was Granny’s domain.

    I don’t remember, actually, if I ever “believed” in Father Christmas (which was what we called him).

    But, I believed in Christmas.

    And I still do.

    • #5
  6. Sweezle Member
    Sweezle
    @Sweezle

    What a wonderful post. I am embarrassed to admit I never believed in Santa Claus. I was born cynical and never remember having much magical thinking. Maybe being an only child warped me.

    • #6
  7. GLDIII Temporarily Essential Reagan
    GLDIII Temporarily Essential
    @GLDIII

    Dad had four boys and one daughter, and all of the boys became engineers, so I think this sums up how Christmas eventually came down in the GLD II household ….

    ENGINEERS TAKE THE FUN OUT OF CHRISTMAS


    There are approximately two billion children (persons under 18) in the world.

    However, since Santa does not visit children of Muslim, Hindu, Jewish or Buddhist (except maybe in Japan) religions, this reduces the workload for Christmas night to 15% of the total, or 378 million (according to the population reference bureau).

    At an average (census) rate of 3.5 children per household, which comes to 108 million homes, presuming that there is at least one child in each.

    Santa has about 31 hours of Christmas to work with, thanks to the different time zones and rotation of the earth, assuming east to west (which seems logical). This works out to 967.7 visits per second.

    That is to say that for each Christmas household with a good child, Santa has around 1/1000th of a second to park the sleigh, hop out, jump down the chimney, fill the stocking, distribute the remaining presents under the tree, eat whatever snacks have been left for him, get back up the chimney, jump into the sleigh and get onto the next house.

    Assuming that each of these 108 million stops is evenly distributed around the earth (which, of course, we know to be false, but will accept for the purposes of our calculations), we are now talking about 0.78 miles per household; a total trip of 75.5 million miles, not counting bathroom stops or breaks.

    This means Santa’s sleigh is moving at 650 miles per second – 3,000 times the speed of sound. For the purposes of comparison, the fastest man made vehicle, The Ulysses space probe, moves at a poky 27.4 miles per second, and a conventional reindeer can run (at best) at 15 miles per hour.

    The payload of the sleigh adds another interesting element. Assuming that each child gets nothing more than a medium sized LEGO set (two pounds) the sleigh is carrying over 500,000 tons, not counting Santa himself. On land a conventional Reindeer can pull no more than 300 lbs. Even granting that a ‘flying’ reindeer can pull 10 times the normal amount, the job can’t be done with eight or nine of them …. Santa would need 360,000 of them.

    This of course increases the payload, not counting the weight of the sleigh, another 54,000 tons, or roughly seven times the weight of the Queen Elizabeth 2 (the ship – not the monarch).

    600,000 tons travelling at 650 miles per second would create enormous air resistance – this would heat up the reindeer in the same fashion as a spacecraft re-entering the earth’s atmosphere. The lead pair of reindeer would absorb 14.3 quintillion joules of energy per second each. In short, they would burst into flames almost instantaneously, exposing the reindeer behind them and creating deafening sonic booms in their wake. The entire reindeer team would be vaporised within 4.26 thousandths of a second, or right about the time Santa reached the fifth house on his trip.

    Not that it matters, however, since Santa, while accelerating from rest to 650 miles per second on 0.001 seconds, would be subject to acceleration forces of 17,000 G.

    A 250 pound Santa (which seems ludicrously slim) would be pinned to the back of the sleigh by 4,315,015 lbs of force, instantly crushing his bones and organs and reducing him to a quivering blob of pink goo.

    Therefore, if Santa did exist, he’s dead now.

    Merry Christmas

    • #7
  8. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    I don’t remember ever believing there was a real Santa Claus. My parents were not very much in favor of teaching kids to take Santa Claus seriously. As far back as I can remember, we would joke about gifts that came from Santa Claus, usually as a not overly serious effort to hide the identity of the giver. 

    I remember when Christmas first seemed magical and beautiful to me.  It was Christmas Eve in 1952, when I was four years old. I don’t want to tell about it in any detail, because doing so will risk destroying the memory I have. I doubt it would be interesting or instructive, anyway. 

    Somewhere along the line I learned to believe in the tooth fairy. Maybe I didn’t believe in a literal tooth fairy–I don’t remember– but I believed that my baby teeth could somehow turn into coins if I put them in a glass of water. I don’t know who first taught me about it, but my parents went along with it.  I also remember when Dad disabused me of the idea; it would have been at least as late as 1953.  

    We sort of did the tooth fairy thing with our kids, I think having them put their baby teeth under their pillows. At one point our daughter lost a baby tooth and didn’t tell us about it.  The next morning she took it out from under her pillow and triumphantly showed it to us, announcing that it proved there was no such thing as a tooth fairy. I’m pretty sure she shared that information with her younger brothers when the time came.

     

    • #8
  9. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    The Reticulator (View Comment):
    At one point our daughter lost a baby tooth and didn’t tell us about it. The next morning she took it out from under her pillow and triumphantly showed it to us, announcing that it proved there was no such thing as a tooth fairy. I’m pretty sure she shared that information with her younger brothers when the time came.

    I like your daughter!

    • #9
  10. Mike Rapkoch Moderator
    Mike Rapkoch
    @MikeRapkoch

    I didn’t stop believing. I was scared straight by this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJvE0_YGMHw

    • #10
  11. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    I still believe. 🎅

    • #11
  12. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Hang On (View Comment):

    Mrs. Musco sounds like the wicked witch. Why would you want to marry her?

    Big . . . uh . . . eyes . . .

    • #12
  13. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    GLDIII Temporarily Essential (View Comment):

    Dad had four boys and one daughter, and all of the boys became engineers, so I think this sums up how Christmas eventually came down in the GLD II household ….

    ENGINEERS TAKE THE FUN OUT OF CHRISTMAS


    There are approximately two billion children (persons under 18) in the world.

    However, since Santa does not visit children of Muslim, Hindu, Jewish or Buddhist (except maybe in Japan) religions, this reduces the workload for Christmas night to 15% of the total, or 378 million (according to the population reference bureau).

    At an average (census) rate of 3.5 children per household, which comes to 108 million homes, presuming that there is at least one child in each.

    Santa has about 31 hours of Christmas to work with, thanks to the different time zones and rotation of the earth, assuming east to west (which seems logical). This works out to 967.7 visits per second.

    That is to say that for each Christmas household with a good child, Santa has around 1/1000th of a second to park the sleigh, hop out, jump down the chimney, fill the stocking, distribute the remaining presents under the tree, eat whatever snacks have been left for him, get back up the chimney, jump into the sleigh and get onto the next house.

    Assuming that each of these 108 million stops is evenly distributed around the earth (which, of course, we know to be false, but will accept for the purposes of our calculations), we are now talking about 0.78 miles per household; a total trip of 75.5 million miles, not counting bathroom stops or breaks.

    This means Santa’s sleigh is moving at 650 miles per second – 3,000 times the speed of sound. For the purposes of comparison, the fastest man made vehicle, The Ulysses space probe, moves at a poky 27.4 miles per second, and a conventional reindeer can run (at best) at 15 miles per hour.

    The payload of the sleigh adds another interesting element. Assuming that each child gets nothing more than a medium sized LEGO set (two pounds) the sleigh is carrying over 500,000 tons, not counting Santa himself. On land a conventional Reindeer can pull no more than 300 lbs. Even granting that a ‘flying’ reindeer can pull 10 times the normal amount, the job can’t be done with eight or nine of them …. Santa would need 360,000 of them.

    This of course increases the payload, not counting the weight of the sleigh, another 54,000 tons, or roughly seven times the weight of the Queen Elizabeth 2 (the ship – not the monarch).

    600,000 tons travelling at 650 miles per second would create enormous air resistance – this would heat up the reindeer in the same fashion as a spacecraft re-entering the earth’s atmosphere. The lead pair of reindeer would absorb 14.3 quintillion joules of energy per second each. In short, they would burst into flames almost instantaneously, exposing the reindeer behind them and creating deafening sonic booms in their wake. The entire reindeer team would be vaporised within 4.26 thousandths of a second, or right about the time Santa reached the fifth house on his trip.

    Not that it matters, however, since Santa, while accelerating from rest to 650 miles per second on 0.001 seconds, would be subject to acceleration forces of 17,000 G.

    A 250 pound Santa (which seems ludicrously slim) would be pinned to the back of the sleigh by 4,315,015 lbs of force, instantly crushing his bones and organs and reducing him to a quivering blob of pink goo.

    Therefore, if Santa did exist, he’s dead now.

    Merry Christmas

    High-sulfur coal in your stocking this year . . .

    • #13
  14. EB Thatcher
    EB
    @EB

    I don’t really remember, probably I was about 8 or 9.  No one told me, just one day I knew.  And once I “knew,” I felt like I had known for a while and just ignored it.

     

    • #14
  15. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    I can’t remember ever buying the Santa routine, especially when no one could explain how he got my neighbor’s new pool table down the chimney. I sat on his lap – he made me nervous. The magic burned in my memory to this day is when I would open the window next to my bed, after a snow had coated the colored lights on the porches, and lay in bed listening to my neighbor’s Christmas music softly playing from an outside speaker onto a silent night. Our Jewish neighbors even liked it.

    • #15
  16. Marythefifth Inactive
    Marythefifth
    @Marythefifth

    My parents didn’t want to lie to their children so I never had to learn about Santa. I learned about Jesus instead. Plenty of wonder there.

    • #16
  17. Franco Inactive
    Franco
    @Franco

    I forget. I can only remember being skeptical that Santa could really do all that. Not to say I wasn’t a gullible young child. My father sealed off a section of our basement to insulate our house better. There was an old trunk in the room and my father told me it was our “treasure”. That made sense to seal off the room, and  I had visions of gold dabloons, pearls and more. I’m sure he forgot about that, one day he said something about the bills. I said, “Dad, why don’t we just use the treasure?”

    Our daughter busted us over the wrapping paper when she was about seven. How come we have the same wrapping paper in our closet as Santa? Huh? 

    • #17
  18. Songwriter Inactive
    Songwriter
    @user_19450

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.:

    From then on, Christmas lost its enchantment. Just family members swapping gifts with no hint of the supernatural. I still enjoyed it, but it became more of a regular holiday like Halloween or Thanksgiving.

     

    This is an important insight. For a kid, to lose the “magic” is a significant turning point. (Some of us spend a lot of our adulthood trying to recapture it.) Those of us who go on to have children of our own can be fortunate to experience that magic once again through our kids’ eyes.

    • #18
  19. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    Songwriter (View Comment):

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.:

    From then on, Christmas lost its enchantment. Just family members swapping gifts with no hint of the supernatural. I still enjoyed it, but it became more of a regular holiday like Halloween or Thanksgiving.

     

    This is an important insight. For a kid, to lose the “magic” is a significant turning point. (Some of us spend a lot of our adulthood trying to recapture it.) Those of us who go on to have children of our own can be fortunate to experience that magic once again through our kids’ eyes.

    How sad to be missing the true spirit of Christmas.  It started as a mildly important religious holiday but the United States made it better, much to the tut-tutting of a certain group of scolds who insist on clinging exclusively to the religious angle.  Sure, that’s important to many people and shouldn’t be discounted, but the real importance of Christmas isn’t the origin myth of a deity, it’s the celebration of prosperity.

    Christmas exploded in American culture as our culture and society exploded its standard of living, and it has grown in largess consistent with the hyper-exponential growth of our wealth.  Never in human history has any population lived as well as we now live, so much better than even 20 years ago, and we celebrate it especially on Christmas.

    Almost every segment of our society enjoys the season and good will seems to be improved in small ways no matter our religions, our cultures, or our individual economic conditions.  

    The rest of the world has had Christmas, especially christian nations, but none made it into what America made it into.  Others have come to copy us, mostly that have also been prosperous.  I hope someday all the world will be celebrating this true meaning of Christmas.  

    • #19
  20. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    Stad (View Comment):

    Hang On (View Comment):

    Mrs. Musco sounds like the wicked witch. Why would you want to marry her?

    Big . . . uh . . . eyes . . .

    OK. The wolf in Red Riding Hood, then.

    • #20
  21. Charles Mark Member
    Charles Mark
    @CharlesMark

    I blame Maxwell Smart! I was 6 and came downstairs to ask my parents, since it was Christmas, if I could watch “Get Smart?“. There they were , surrounded by toys and the penny dropped. 

    My own eldest had a similar moment about 12 years ago but I somehow managed to convince him that Santa had come while I was in the bathroom. So convinced that a year later he said to me-

    ” Dad, I still believe in Santa because of what happened last year. But I’m really struggling with God.”

    • #21
  22. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    Charles Mark (View Comment):

    I blame Maxwell Smart! I was 6 and came downstairs to ask my parents, since it was Christmas, if I could watch “Get Smart?“. There they were , surrounded by toys and the penny dropped.

    My own eldest had a similar moment about 12 years ago but I somehow managed to convince him that Santa had come while I was in the bathroom. So convinced that a year later he said to me-

    ” Dad, I still believe in Santa because of what happened last year. But I’m really struggling with God.”

    Wise young man.  He believed you and your explanation of what he saw with his own eyes because he trusted you, but knew a farce when he saw it.  

    I’ve never understood the value of lying to children. Omitting harsh truths to the very young is warranted, but lying is not something I’ve ever thought wise. The wonder is that children don’t rebel at authority after such absurd shoppers presented as truth. 

    • #22
  23. Franco Inactive
    Franco
    @Franco

    There’s something really special with the idea that some benevolent entity is monitoring our conduct and if we are good we get gifts. Usually the things we wanted, or things we really liked.
    It’s not the same if you know it comes from your parents. And it enjoyable giving by proxy. This is one of the things that’s great about our culture. It’s a really special custom.

    • #23
  24. Adriana Harris Inactive
    Adriana Harris
    @AdrianaHarris

    My dissolution took a rather indirect route. When I was about eight years old my mother asked me to get her a pair of earrings from her jewelry box. There in the box were all the baby teeth I had lost up until that point. Don’t ask me why she was saving them. I showed them to her and asked why they weren’t with the tooth fairy. She wasn’t able to think up a lie (I think she uttered a mild expletive) so I then knew the tooth fairy wasn’t real. From there it was a small hop to the Easter Bunny and not far behind was Santa Claus. I still pretended for a couple years for my parents sake, but I knew better. Christmas was still fun, but the magic has disappeared. 

    • #24
  25. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    I mentioned this on another post.

    Oldest daughter was not sure Santa existed.  One Christmas she asked Mom about it, and my wife asked if she still believed in him.

    Oldest daughter replied, “Yes, as long as he keeps bringing me good stuff.”

    Therefore, belief in Santa is proportional to the quality of the merchandise . . .

    • #25
  26. Belt Inactive
    Belt
    @Belt

    I double-checked this with my Mom when I was visiting my parents after church.  I’ve been thinking it over, and I don’t recall ever realizing that Santa Claus didn’t exist.  Mom told us the stories, but it was always in the realm of fairy tale, and she never made a point of telling us it was real.  I suspect that it’s a result of the sort of place where I grew up, both (hard-headedly) practical and (staunchly Dutch Calvinist) religious.  Santa was just a bit player in the Christmas drama; Bethlehem was the focal point, that made everything else clear.

    • #26
  27. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    Belt (View Comment):

    I double-checked this with my Mom when I was visiting my parents after church. I’ve been thinking it over, and I don’t recall ever realizing that Santa Claus didn’t exist. Mom told us the stories, but it was always in the realm of fairy tale, and she never made a point of telling us it was real. I suspect that it’s a result of the sort of place where I grew up, both (hard-headedly) practical and (staunchly Dutch Calvinist) religious. Santa was just a bit player in the Christmas drama; Bethlehem was the focal point, that made everything else clear.

    I always wonder how christians, if they truly believe in their god, justify in their minds the worship of a supernatural omniscient being besides their own god.

    • #27
  28. Phil Turmel Coolidge
    Phil Turmel
    @PhilTurmel

    I figured it out at about 9yo.  My older brother was poking around in my parents closet and found a stash of presents.  We didn’t tell our parents we knew.  Much later, I realized my parents had always been vague about Santa’s identity.  They let the culture mislead us, but kept silent on it themselves.  No outright lies.  The most they did was to mark the presents under the tree as “From Santa”.

    When my own children showed up, my wife and I decided to do the same.  “Santa” would be a special nickname for us in this special gift-giving role.  When the children each figured it out, or were spoiled by friends, we didn’t deny it.  Just quietly explained and asked them to not spoil the secret for others.

    • #28
  29. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Phil Turmel (View Comment):
    My older brother was poking around in my parents closet and found a stash of presents.

    Which means he was a sneak who knew what he was expecting to find. My elder brother did that to me, “Come look what you’re getting for Christmas!” Thanks. Thanks a lot.

    • #29
  30. EHerring Coolidge
    EHerring
    @EHerring

    Three stages of life, believing in a Santa, not believing in a Santa, being Santa.

    • #30
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