When I was young, I would wake up during the middle of the night to see Santa Claus. I even remember my mom and dad waking me up one time to see the jolly old man.

He was there all dressed up. He was fat, had a sack of presents, and even had a long and bushy white beard. I remember it just as I remember finding out that Santa Claus wasn’t real.

My parents did such a great job making Santa Claus seem real. They left a note, ate the cookies, stuffed the stocking, and showered me with beautiful presents.

So I looked like an idiot when I finally found out. It was fifth grade, my first year here at Country Day, and I was telling people how excited I was.

I said I was going to stay up to try to see Santa.

“Why would you do that?” Makenna Chapman said. “Santa Claus isn’t real.”

I got into the car that day and specifically asked, “Mom, Is Santa Claus real?”

She had a long pause before a tear ran down her cheek.

“No, Daniel, he’s not.”

I asked her about that night that I saw “Santa Claus,” and she  said he was a man she and my dad had paid to impersonate Santa. I was hurt, even though she said it in the nicest way possible.

I couldn’t believe it. I kept denying it, but as time went on, the spirit and belief in me just faded.

On that year’s Christmas morning, I woke up at 8 a.m., got up, went downstairs, looked at the stockings and went back to sleep.

It was not till eighth grade when it really hit me. None of the holidays matter to me any more. I got my Christmas presents, had a laugh or two, but never really enjoyed the spirit afterwards. I didn’t care about the tree or the lights—I didn’t even help decorate it, something I usually did every year.

I think it’s because I lost my belief and spirit. It was like none of the holiday mattered to me.

Nevertheless, when—or if—I become a dad, I plan to do what my parents did. Although for a couple of weeks I felt like my parents had betrayed me, I still enjoyed the holiday when I was young. The experience was amazing, and I would love my kids to experience the same moments.

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