By Megan Bowers, For The Miami Student
Warning: This article contains explicit information about Santa Claus and may or may not be appropriate for young children.
There comes a time in each of our lives when we realize Santa Claus is not a jolly man in a red suit with a white beard, but is, in fact, our own parents.
Some children make the discovery gradually. They recognize that the handwriting on their gifts from 'Santa' is the same on their other gifts, or they discover it is impossible for reindeer to fly.
However, there are others who need a trigger to finally accept the sad truth, leaving them with traumatizing stories about how their childhood came to an end.
Sam Schultheis peers into the closet, pulling out a light blue sweater with silvery snowflakes scattered around it. Her older sister, Abbie, immediately reaches for it and declares it a keep, sticking it in the left pile behind them.
They take turns pulling out each sweater and debating whether it should go in the keep or donate pile.
Eventually, Abbie takes out a big red sweater with a Santa Claus face at the bottom.
Sam automatically says they have to keep this one for sure. Santa is one of the biggest parts of Christmas, so they obviously need to hold onto it.
Abbie tells Sam she is ridiculous and quickly turns to their mom to ask why they've kept it for so long.
Sam's thoughts begin to race.
Enjoy what you're reading?
Signup for our newsletter
"What do you mean why do we keep it?" she asks.
Abbie replies, saying, "Sam, he's not even real."
Sam's eyes instantly grow huge and she looks up at her sister and mom, who are both frozen in place.
Once the realization sets in, she turns and runs to her room, hiding under her blanket as the tears begin to form.
As her family comforts her, she vows to never buy anything Santa related again.
Early December 2006
Nick Romeo stands in the snow, waiting for the bus with a few of his friends.
Conversations about what people are doing over break and what they want for Christmas are all around them, but, as usual, Nick's thoughts return to the topic of Santa Claus.
He runs through the usual debate, weighing the idea that traveling all around the world in one night has to be impossible with the fact that his family has actually tracked Santa's journey online before.
He tunes back in just as one of his friends says, "I have Santa's phone number."
Another chimes in saying, "Oh yeah, me too. It's my mom's phone number."
Nick asks, "What?" before he can stop himself.
"Yeah, Santa isn't real," his friend responds.
"What are you talking about?"
"You know it's your mom and dad right?"
All of Nick's thoughts rush together as he lets the realization settle in.
"Well, I do now," he says.
Everyone around him continues to joke, listing random 330 numbers that obviously belong to their parents.
As Nick laughs along, he realizes he really did know already. Everything about Santa seemed impossible. He realizes he was just trying to hold onto the last sliver of hope and keep the Christmas spirit alive.
Late December 2007
Casey Fawcett sits at the kitchen table playing on the computer - signs of Christmas all around her.
Their tree still stands in the living room. The lights still hang outside. Piles of new toys and clothes still sit on the table waiting to be brought to their rooms.
And, a brand new gymnastics bar and balance beam from Santa are set up in the room down the hall.
Casey switches tabs to the internet on her computer and right away instructions about how to construct a balance beam fill the page.
"Mom," she called. "Why was Santa borrowing our computer?"
"Oh honey, he must not have brought his computer with him." Her mom replied. "He just had to look it up."
Casey thinks of the doubt she has felt in the last couple years. Her friends weren't as excited about Christmas anymore and the whole 'coming down the chimney' thing just seemed unrealistic.
In that moment, Casey realized there was no way Santa could be real.
Elise Vasko sits at a cafeteria table with her 10 closest friends.
Now that they are back from Thanksgiving break, Christmas is all anyone can talk about.
Elise starts talking about how she hopes her mom gets her clothes and Santa brings her some new games.
All at once, everyone stops talking and her friend Angie says, "Wait, you still believe in Santa Claus?"
Elise responds with a hesitant, "Yes."
Angie looks at her incredulously and says, "You know he's not real, right?"
Elise looks around at the table as everyone starts laughing at her.
She shrugs it off, pretending she really did know, then spends the rest of the day reliving every Christmas she can remember, trying to convince herself that Santa has to be real.