The Day My Santa Died: Absolutely True Stories of Holiday Innocence Lost

All good things must come to an end. And sometimes that end involves the heart-wrenching realization that life is far less magical than we once believed.

(Spoiler Alert!) The following stories contain language that may or may not be construed as implying that it’s possible that the notion of Santa Claus is somehow less than truthful. If you, or anyone nearby, remain under the impression that the legend of the flying fat man is even remotely factual, please cease reading.

The Hard Right

My first clue was the wrapping paper. I was snooping around in my parent’s closet and I found these huge rolls of holiday wrapping paper. That’s odd, I thought. And then what do you know but on Christmas morning, every one of my gifts was wrapped in the very same paper. I looked at the paper and looked at my parents. I looked back at the paper and then back at my parents. A light bulb went off in my head and I said, wait a minute! This is the same wrapping paper… and then, BAM! My dad punched me right in the mouth. He just glared at me and kept jerking his head toward my little sister. I stopped the bleeding with the front of my Captain America pajamas and realized that he wanted me to shut up and not ruin my sister’s morning. My dad felt bad about it later, but not bad enough that it kept him from making it a running joke every year after that. He still thinks it’s funny to greet me on Christmas morning in his robe with his right hand wrapped in paper and topped with a bow. He shakes his fist and asks, “You want to open this one first?” Then he laughs like a big idiot.
— Darrell, 32

Sick Leave

It was sometime in the middle of the night and I remember hearing someone opening and closing the doors of the family van. I peeked out the window and saw my father carrying two new bikes into the garage. I started crying until my mother came in to ask me what was wrong. I told her I was sad because I just found out that my father was a bicycle thief. She explained to me that no, he wasn’t stealing those bikes. He was just helping Santa Claus. I asked why Santa Claus would need my father’s help since Santa was supposedly magical and could do anything he wanted just by wiggling his nose. So she told me that Santa was sick and that’s why he needed daddy’s help. I asked if Santa had a cold and she said no, it was much more serious than that. The flu? No honey, she said, Santa has bone cancer and he probably won’t survive the winter. Then she told me to get to sleep and stop asking so many questions.
— Heather, 43

Moving Violation

For me it was pretty early that I figured out the whole Christmas thing. Maybe I was six, could have been seven. I never slept well on Christmas Eve and I was always sneaking downstairs to get a peek at what was under the tree. If my parents were asleep, I’d lift the corner of a package and try to make out what was under the paper. Well this one year I thought my parents were asleep, but they weren’t. It turns out that they were in the garage yelling at each other and I could hear my mother crying. It sounded pretty messed up and I didn’t want any part of some dumb ass holiday argument. But I was going back upstairs when I heard a man’s voice I didn’t recognize. Being six, or seven or whatever, I must have immediately assumed they were talking to Santa Claus (it made total sense at the time). So for a minute I just totally lost my mind and pushed open the door to the garage, grinning like an idiot. I still remember the horrified look on their faces. On the ground I saw a pair of black boots connected to a couple of mangled legs sticking out from under the station wagon. The garage smelled like motor oil and burnt hair. I asked, was that Santa Claus under the car? My dad laughed. Yep, he said, that’s Santa… he’s dead and mommy killed him. I want to say I threw up, but maybe I just felt like throwing up. For the next 10 years I just assumed my mother had murdered Santa with our Chevrolet Caprice Classic. Then one year she confessed and told me the whole “running over the drifter and dragging him home under the car” story. Apparently they buried him where the sun porch is now, which is messed up because that’s where I used to eat breakfast just about every day.
— Mike, 36

The Littlest Detective

Back in ‘89, you could have called me Columbo and it would have been a completely serious compliment. I could just about figure anything out that was hard as hell for other people to figure out. You might even say that I was the first kid in my school to get hip to the real truth about Santa Claus. That shit was NOT hard at all to figure out. Not for me. I just sat outside in the bushes on Christmas Eve and waited for him to show up. Dude never came, but somehow I got presents anyway. I was like, WHAT? It freaked me out until I deduced that there never really was a Santa Claus in the first place. I realized it was just a story that people made up to keep stupid kids happy. Why don’t they just tell them the truth? You got me. It seems like coming clean and telling them that Santa is really just Jesus, except older and fatter is no big deal. I’ve told plenty of dummies the truth and they weren’t even sad or nothing. They almost get mad a little bit when I tell them that it’s Jesus who brings the presents and he can be totally invisible, because they’re like, “Of COURSE!” Like they know they should have figured that shit out for themselves. They ask me, how do I know it’s Jesus? And I tell them it doesn’t take a genius to figure out. Think about it, they both have beards, right? And dude, it’s his birthday! Jesus totally gives people presents because he’s like 2000 years old and he’s already got every present ever made, right? All you have to do is connect the dots. Shit is so simple it’s stupid.
— Raymond, 48

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Pete Humes

Pete Humes is a husband, father and writer who lives in Richmond’s North Side. He enjoys coffee and owns way too many records.

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