The Truth About Santa

I don’t remember how old I was when David Ginsberg burst my bubble.

He lived down the hill on Lexington Street and was a couple of years older than me. We were standing in his driveway shortly before Christmas when he told me there’s no such thing as Santa Claus. I walked home stunned.

I don’t know why he told me, and at the time it seemed like a crappy thing to do. For me the truth didn’t come gradually, with the tiny suspicions that gently lead children to the truth. Instead it was a kick in the gut. I think I went to my room and cried.

This story has never been told without religion coming up. Yes, David Ginsberg was Jewish, and I Catholic, and everybody always gets a big kick out of that when they here this tale. But even though the Santa myth may have had no meaning for him, this was more about an older boy doing what older boys do. If it were not him, it probably would have ended up being one my brothers.

More than forty years later, I still remember this, the way some people remember where they were when JFK was shot. I’m not sure what that says about me, but this much is true: it made me a great protector of the Santa story.

So parents, this season please whisper quietly, walk softly, and hide your presents well.


Now, on a related note, here’s someone who has absolutely no regard for the Santa myth, Chicago news anchor Robin Robinson, in one of the most crass and clueless things I’ve ever seen on TV. And I’ve seen some stupid things on TV.

10 thoughts on “The Truth About Santa

  1. Rob, please, I think it’s time to let this go. Get on Facebook tonight and find David Ginsberg. After you locate him, forgive him for messing you up so terribly. That would be a very Catholic thing to do, and you’ll be able to sleep tonight. Peace out.

  2. It was my older brother who told me about Santa, and he did so in a very cruel way. I know this sounds ridiculous but I still resent what he did a little bit, even though I know he was just being an asshole. He got his, though. When my father found out what he did, Billy got slapped in the head. We laugh about it now.

  3. I chuckle, only because I recently told my (Jewish) child that Santa is “pretend”. I followed up, though, by saying that it’s a secret, and that the other kids in school might think he’s real, and that my son should just let them think that if they want.

    I told him because he was feeling badly about not getting presents from Santa, and I recall feeling left out of the festivities when Santa didn’t bring me presents as a kid. So, I said that when he gets presents from his parents on Hanukkah, the non-Jewish kids are actually getting presents from their parents, but that they pretend that they are from Santa.

    However, though I did request that he not spill the beans to 21 other kindergartners, I am also aware that kindergartners are not expert secret-keepers. I don’t feel bad about telling him, but I will feel bad when some irate mom calls to ream me out because my son ruined her kid’s Christmas.


    1. Sounds like you handled it perfectly.

      Going to school and outing Santa would make a hilarious scene in a movie or on TV, wouldn’t it? Maybe not so funny if it really happens; I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you.

  4. The Yes, Virginia letter still makes me cry. It’s kind of the polar opposite of that mean anchor lady. I always thought it was a gentle transition from Santa becoming something that’s “all about me” to something that’s all about others. I was fortunate that I had that kind of a gentle transition in my life. There was no moment that Santa became a myth. He still lives for me in the kindnesses people do for each other at this time of year, or any time of year. Merry Christmas everyone. Even you, mean anchor lady.

  5. Look, at 46 I still believe in Santa Claus – or at least the premise behind being charitable and kind and good and all that jazz. The magic of Christmas, for me and mine, is wrapped up and around Santa, baby Jesus, family and friends!

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