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My mom went to great lengths to keep the belief in Santa alive. We did the usual: setting out cookies, carrots, maybe even milk. I don’t remember. But I do remember my mom told my sister and me that the unfortunate water damage on the ceiling in my parent’s bedroom was from “the reindeers peeing on the roof when Santa landed on our house.” I believed her.

Of course, my sister and I tried sleeping next to the tree, in eyeshot of the chimney, but somehow we never caught Santa. It really boggled my mind. I was like a scientist, scratching my head and wondering where the experiment had gone wrong. There were crumbs on the plate. The stockings were full—always with a bunch of Chapstick and a giant orange at the toe of it that duped me every year into thinking it was more than it was. There was even a response to my letter to him! Santa’s handwriting did look eerily similar to my mom’s, but it wasn’t an exact match. The results: inconclusive.

I guess I should ask my mom, now that I’m grown, the logistics of how she did this.

Did she take the cookies into another room and eat them? Or did she munch on them while she watched us sleep, like a sicko? How did she make sure I didn’t wake up from her crunching on the carrots? The mastery!

My mom kept up this charade for… too long. My sister, two years older, must have figured it out sooner and was sworn to secrecy. Or, more likely, she liked watching me squirm. Because it wasn’t until fifth grade (FIFTH GRADE, PEOPLE!) that I found out the truth.

Apparently, according to the almighty internet, fifth graders are typically developmentally capable of “arguing more than one side of an issue” and can “start predicting the consequences of an action and plan accordingly.” Most notably, as it relates to this story, fifth graders “Begin to rely on friends, the news, and social media to get information and form opinions.”

I see this as where I had gone wrong. I apparently only relied on my MOM for my information.

One day, I got into an extensive argument with a classmate. She said Santa wasn’t real. I said he absolutely was “because his reindeers peed on my roof.” And then I turned to my fifth grade teacher for back up. “Tell her Santa exists!” My teacher’s eyes went wide, trying to formulate a response that wouldn’t confirm nor deny. I felt my heart drop.

When I got home, I forced my mom to tell me the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth: Does he, or does he not exist? Is Santa real? She responded with the look that I imagine parents have to give when a goldfish or more important pet (because let’s be honest, who really cares about a goldfish? Not even a kid.) passes away. “No, honey, he isn’t real.”

In that moment, my world spun out of control, and I burst into tears. I don’t know if it was that the magic of Santa had been forever lost or if I was just pissed that she embarrassed me in front of my whole class and my teacher.

Then I looked at my mom through my hysterical crying and just blubbered out, “Does that mean the Tooth Fairy isn’t real either?”

Meredith Chin

Meredith Chin is a writer, director, and producer living in Los Angeles, CA.

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