I was 8 the first—and only—time I spoiled Santa for a believer. My parents had come clean about the Santa myth to me a year or two earlier because I was offended that the jolly geezer didn’t care about me, a Christmas carol-singing Jew from the northern Chicago suburbs. Why did he only leap down the chimneys of my Christian friends? What had I done to deserve this prejudicial treatment? My parents finally cracked, and I was relieved. My friends weren’t more special than me after all!
I knew, of course, that most kids my age were not privy to this knowledge. Possessing the secret made me feel deliciously superior. I understood the cruel, complicated world a little better than my third-grade buddies. Unfortunately, my newfound sophistication didn’t enhance my secret-keeping abilities.
I had Santa ruined for me when I was… Five? Four, maybe? Young, I remember; a friend came over on Christmas Day to show off his toy haul, and when I attempted to show him what Santa had brought me, he laughed at me for even mentioning Old Saint Nick. “There isn’t a Santa! It’s just your mum and dad pretending!” he told me. On Christmas Day.
Ah, the casual cruelty of youth.