The jolly ol’ heartbreaker

South Dakota gal's coffe mug

The image on my coffee mug ... cute, huh?

I sit here with a cup of hot coffee in hand. The mug is decorated in a 1964 Coca-Cola Santa Claus design, and he is a mighty fine looking Santa.

The man in red is holding a bottle of Coke high in his hand, with two little children smiling near him. A small, black poodle looking dog with a red bow sits on its end with its paws lifted up, wagging its tongue toward Santa and his Coke.

For many of us who believed in a Santa Claus, it was with mixed emotions when the truth was revealed. If it hasn’t been revealed yet, and you’re not sure where I am going with this, I’d suggest you quit reading now.

Do you remember when you learned Santa did not exist? Were you angry? Hurt? Shocked? Now, I remember very little about my elementary school years. However, I sure as heck remember the moment I found out the bologna I’d been taught until then. A young girl’s first heartbreak. It was fun while it lasted, right?

South Dakota coffee mug Santa

A jolly looking fella, isn't he?

How I Learned
Erin and I were walking to the “Santa Store” to pick out gifts for our parents with funds provided by them as well. I said something about Santa coming, and she looked at me and said, “You still believe in Santa?” Then she want on to tell me the real story. Oh Erin, how could you?! I know who’s not my playground buddy today.

Once I found out, I wasn’t sure I could let my sister believe this lie like I had. Do I tell her? When? How? Will she cry? As much as I wanted her to share the suffering with me (sisters are great for that), I kept quiet and went along with it for her sake. I actually found it fun doing so, pretending Santa existed and seeing the excitement light up in her eyes. This makes me realize now that believing in Santa is just as fun for the parents as it is the children.

South Dakota gal's favorite looking Santa

Sorry I'm not real, kid!

Moving On
All good things must come to an end, and the belief in Santa Claus was one of them. Being a resilient little Joe Dirt, I got over it and moved on. But do we pass this false tradition off to our children? I don’t think so.

It’s not that I don’t want them to be excited for this time of year, but I’ve found believing in Santa Claus is like building a dream upon sand. It doesn’t last, and you look back wondering what the point of it was.

If I do it because I enjoy seeing the excitement light up in their eyes, then it was for my sake alone. There is so much more about this season to love, and I cannot wait to start traditions and build new family value systems. Values and traditions that will rock the socks of Santa and his darling red suit.

Goodbye, Mr. Claus
It was nice at one time, Santa, but this chimney is closed.

South Dakota gal's favorite Santa

But would you kindly leave the Coke at the door, please?

Click on images for original location.


36 thoughts on “The jolly ol’ heartbreaker

  1. I don’t remember ever believing in Santa (born skeptic). With my own kids I had mixed feelings and it rode out like this: No 1. I didn’t say much, she didn’t say much, Santa gave small trinkets like oranges and lifesavers, etc… No 2. We quickly figured out the idea of a big costumed loud guy coming into our house while slept was, well, frightening! We downplayed it big time. Stockings continued to bulge with small treats Christmas morn. No 3. The older kids loved to play up the Santa story with their younger sibling and ended up angry when the truth was revealed to her at about 7 or 8. I encouraged them not to lie to keep the myth going. Being vague was all she needed. So its funny to me that my middle one, once frightened of the big guy, figured it out just before No 3. I had to pull him aside and break it to him. I felt like other kids were making fun of him. He was in 5th grade. I had a tough time convincing him it was me. I felt like a terrible fraud, poor guy.

    • That first realization is tough! Thankfully we move on and forgive easily at that age. I remember having great friends as neighbors growing up, and they never believed in the Santa thing. We didn’t learn this until we (sister and I) ourselves knew it wasn’t true. These three girls, who were like our own sisters, seemed to be more mature than others their age about this. They had a great imagination, but lived in reality, too. I think they in part influenced my reconsidering how we’d go forward with our children. Thankfully, Country Man wasn’t too attached to Santa either, and has a bigger focus on outreach πŸ™‚

      Great hearing from you!

  2. Thank you so much for writing this! I also don’t “believe in” telling kids the lie about Santa. Yes, I see the fun in it…. but like you said, it is the parents who really enjoy it. Not to mention using it to threaten kids into being good! Sure I too loved the idea of santa when I was a kid, but theres no denying I was lied to by people I trusted. And I was heartbroken too, when I found out.

    • I hear you, it was not cool. But, it was a blast at the time, and I got over it pretty fast. I suppose it comes down to Country Man and I having a different definition of what this time is about as we look toward our future … and a fat man in a red suit isn’t included πŸ™‚ Thank you so much for stopping in and commenting!!

  3. I remember finding out very early in elementary school when a group of kids were making fun of another kid who believed in Santa. I heard what they were saying and saw how embarrassing it was for the kid who still believed; then the naysayers started polling the rest of us, and of course, to avoid being the brunt of their mocking, I agreed with them that there was no Santa. But inside I was really rattled. It wasn’t a pleasant experience. If you decide not to start the Santa tradition with your kids, also tell them not to spoil it for others!

    BTW – we’re having our first snow flurry-fall of the season today! We love snow in our family, and since we’re not usually subjected to the kind of cold and early snows you are, every snowfall is a “cocoa celebration” for us! πŸ™‚

  4. We had kind of a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy! I don’t remember telling my kids there wasn’t a Santa, but neither did I tell them he did, in fact, exist. If they had come right out and asked point blank, I would have told them the truth! But they never have!!! The “kids” now 26 and 29, along with a 57 year old husband, a 34 year old son–in-law, and three granddaughters still get stockings on Christmas morning!

  5. What does Country Man think? I determined I would not like to lie to my kids either, but my hubby wanted to perpetuate the Santa dude. We each presented our cases. The result was, in both my kids, that they didn’t know what to think, and chose to believe in Santa until they were ready to feel silly for doing so. πŸ™‚

    • Well, we do know everything about raising kids, even though we don’t have any yet πŸ™‚ We have talked about it, and husband was not much into the Santa Claus thing. He came from a more a religious upbringing, so it wasn’t enforced. I came from one who went bananas with Santa, and while it was fun for a while, in the end we would have enjoyed it without the belief, too. Country Man says he wants Christmas to be more about outreach than inreach. And while the real Old St. Nick agreed, today’s Santa Claus idea isn’t so much about that.

      Glad you stopped in!!

  6. My youngest still believes in Santa though we’ve never actually laid it out in that way. I have always taught them that Santa is a representation of the goodwill of the season. We don’t even have gifts from Santa, the kids all get filled stockings from Nana a set amount of money from us and we do after Christmas sale shopping as a family. All the gifts we give out are handmade, homemade or the gift of our time. πŸ˜‰

  7. Ah – come on – no Santa? I’m 51 and i still believe in the jolly old fella. I guess, I see your point and I do have friends that had to tell kids that were so old it was becoming embarrassing. When my oldest daughter was seven she told her younger brother that Santa lived in the sky where he rode around on his sleigh. I attempted to correct her with the North Pole version and she CORRECTED me – declaring that the Santa SHE believed in, did in fact, live in the sky. Wow – was I confused.

  8. My parents never did the Santa Clause thing, for which I’m so grateful. Why wouldn’t a kid’s face light up from knowing their own parents were hiding gifts under the tree for them? The whole Santa thing is not a great way to build trust with your kids… I really don’t see the point, especially since you know it’s not true the whole time, but I think the stories and songs about Santa are entertaining for Christmastime. Thanks for the fun post!

  9. I guess I have a different view of Santa. I have always felt he was part of the “magic of Christmas” and was sad to see him go. My children did believe in Santa, along with all their friends and as they grew and this tradition faded, they missed him as well. I guess we all see things differently and that’s okay:)

  10. A great Christmas post. I always wonder how all the children deal with the revelation that Santa is not real. My experience is unique I guess, compared to the general public. My parents never really told me anything, and “santa” was to me just another cartoon character where I had to pose for pictures with (like in Disneyland). Perhaps being Asian was the reason for this? And then there were Those Christians whom I grew up with that like to use “Santa = Satan” as the reason for not exposing their children. I am indifferent, but I think I would just carry on my parents ignorance and pretend Santa is no different than Mickey Mouse.

  11. Love your post. I have a now fourteen year old who felt really betrayed by me when she found out I had lied to her about Santa, so we decided not to go that route with my four year old. We’d rather just focus on Jesus being real, but not anti-santa.

  12. I can only speak for myself. I am certaintly not going to judge what anyone else thinks or feels.

    My daughter is ten gonig on thirty. I am somewhat older than that going on ninety. This is our last year of pure innocence with her. By the time she is eleven, she will have figured it out.

    It will be the first time in over a quarter of a century when keeping the dream alive for the sake of the kids (parents) wasn’t a priority. I remembered when I stopped beleiving in Santa Claus.
    It was …. empty.

    • I appreciate your honesty. I completely understand what you’re saying, as I have parents who felt the same way you do. While I loved that they loved reliving that innocent belief through my sister and I, at the same time it is my hope our future children know the satisfaction of this holiday that doesn’t leave one empty: reaching out and making a difference for others. People are so often faced with that empty feeling you mentioned during this Christmas season, and that’s the opposite of what I hope our children will experience. We’ll see (there may be a lot of outside influences to think about). So glad you stopped by and shared your story!

  13. Pingback: Christmas Nostalgia: How Some Things Change … For the Good. « The Simple Life of a Country Man's Wife

  14. When I found out, I felt betrayed!!! The horror of all the lies I bought!! I asked so many questions, basically just stating that “So, every story you told me about Santa is a lie?” -Sniff, sniff.
    In my family they would even make up, how they saw Santa outside the window, how they visited the North Pole, apparently they had a direct connection with Santa, where they would pass valuable information on my behavior, just to make sure Santa didn’t miss any of my deeds.
    And of course, after that, the presents were never as good.

  15. After spending quite a while dwelling in your blog, I ‘d like to comment on the whole of it. Best time I ever spent reading a blog. I caught myself smiling and actually laughed out loud more than once! You just have a way with words and I can see you know how to bring out inner thoughts and put them down in such a way that draws your reader’s full attention. I went to the Black Hills way back in 1962 with my parents, while we camped across America in a tent. Those were the days. I still have fond memories of that beautiful and haunting landscape of South Dakota and I am now 60. I appreciate your thoughts on the many different subjects you talk of and your way of providing a window into your’s and Country Man’s bit of heaven on earth. I am a City Girl, but country girl at heart, and am married to City Man and am convinced that you and I are very blessed and have so much to be thankful for! Oh, and p.s., I love your furry “babies”…they are so cute! I have a little Calico named Miss Lily and she’s my heart also! Keep up the good work and I look forward to reading much more. God bless you and yours in this new year,

    • Every once in a while, a comment comes in and blesses my soul. Your comment was definitely that blessing.
      Thanks for seeing what I try to convey on this blog … it’s a great, imperfect life, but I truly feel blessed to share it with my Country Man and pups.

      Thank you so much for the kind words this Sunday – it means a lot πŸ™‚

  16. I just read your blog on discovering there is no Santa. I have to tell you that my father had to tell me at the age of 11 because all the other kids were telling me and I wouldnt believe them. I think he was afraid they would be making fun of me, so when I told him they were all saying there is no Santa he said “Ann I have to tell you” and he went to explain to me. Well I can tell you Christmas was never the same I was broken hearted I hated Christmas after that and still to this day I am not too gone on it. When my children were young I enjoyed the excitement for them then once again when they grew up the excitement was gone. Now I have the grandchildren to bring the excitment back.
    If only Santa did exist

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