1. Rex Mundi says

    I stopped believing in Santa Claus when I found a lot of gifts intended for me underneath my parents’ bed. I believe I was five or six years old.

    It is much later on that I realized the significance of this with respect to atheism. Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy are all easily dismissed by most children because there is a psychological need to have a conscious cause for ‘magical’ events. Who gives you presents/colored eggs/money under your pillow? Replace Santa/Rabbit/Fairy with mom & dad, and it’s easy to dismiss that former magical thinking.

    But when it comes to things such as the (pseudo) question, “who created the universe/world/life?” Many people have that same psychological need to believe that a conscious entity of some sort was responsible. A super-mom & dad…or for most Christians, just their Super-Dad.

  2. says

    I heard that earlier today and loved it. I was going to wait till the afternoon and look for podcast and send you the link, but I see someone was faster….

  3. GeralCorasjo says

    I started having religious doubts when I found out Santa didn’t really exist. It was a life changing event haha.

  4. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    Santa Claus isn’t real? Next you’ll be telling me the Easter Bunny doesn’t lay eggs and Huitzilopochtli doesn’t need human hearts offered to him for the sun to rise tomorrow.

  5. Marcie says

    I loved the 5th graders! Heh. I stopped believing in Santa Claus when I was 6 or 7, I guess. I’ve never believed in God, though.

  6. mrcreosote says

    Driftwood: “It’s alright, that’s in every contract! That’s what they call the ‘Sanity Clause.'”

    Fiorello: “Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha. You can’t fool me…there ain’t no Sanity Clause.”

  7. patnkatng says

    I stopped believing when I discovered that Santa’s handwriting was exactly like my mother’s.

    My daughter (age 7) is still wavering. She has announced that she doesn’t believe in any gods. But she’s still hedging her bets on Santa. Then, of course, there’s La Befana to contend with. Thanks to an Italian preschool.

  8. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    My daughter (age 7) is still wavering. She has announced that she doesn’t believe in any gods. But she’s still hedging her bets on Santa.

    Santa gives gifts but what do gods do for her? Seems to me she’s being quite rational about the whole thing.

  9. Katrina says

    @ ‘Tis,

    She’s my own little Skepchick. Her teacher wrote in her report card that she’s announced to the class that she is (not “will be”) a Scientist.

    (I was “patnkatng” in the previous posting. Stupid livejournal)

  10. Samantha says

    My father told me that there was no Santa when I was five. He was reading a book to me (I think it might have been Beverly Cleary’s Henry Huggins or something of the like) and one of the characters told his younger brother that he was silly for believing in Santa because there was no Santa. I asked my Dad if that was true and he told me that no, there was no Santa.

    My little brother believed until he was almost thirteen, at which point, me sassing my Mom over an overcomplicated Easter Egg Hunt finally lead her to tell him that the Easter Bunny (and Santa et al) really didn’t exist. I got in a lot of trouble for that one.

  11. says

    I remember when I was 7 asking my mother if Santa was real and upon finding out that he wasn’t, following up with the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny, both of which were subsequently confirmed not to exist. I finished off the list with God (it seemed to be the next invisible actor in line), which my mother, to my chagrin, said was real. I went with it until I was 11, then dropped God too.

  12. Jordan says

    My parents got divorced so I always had Christmas time with my dad on Christmas Eve. I was worried that Santa wouldn’t come to my dad’s since it was technically the night before Christmas Eve. My parents reassured me that he would make a special trip to my dad’s house, but that just didn’t add up to me so I got suspicious. Then I started hearing rumors at school about Santa not being real and I just put two and two together.

  13. a.human.ape says

    I was a bit reluctant to throw out the Tooth Fairy idea because it was a cash cow. But one night I couldn’t resist saying, as the tooth fairy who looked a lot like my mother was leaving my bedroom, thinking that I was asleep, “thanks mom”. She laughed, and that was the end of that easy money.

  14. DLC says

    No Santa Clause?
    No Santa Claus ?!!!11!??
    what, next you’ll be telling me there’s no Jesus!
    then I’ll only have John Jameson left to believe in.
    I’ll be off crying into my pillow if you need me.

  15. nixscripter says

    I don’t remember my age, but I just decided at some point there was no reason that my parents couldn’t have pulled off the same effects. I asked, they admitted it.

    In a somewhat similar vein, the first time I questioned religion — my escape was a long process — was when I saw an animated version of the Jews’ escape from exile (I think it was The Prince of Egypt). The Egyptian magicians, to prove that Moses was a trickster, managed to replicate his minor miracles through alchemy — but never managed the rain of fire and plague of locusts.

    It struck me that some huge number of people in history must have believed those magicians were just as powerful as Moses’ people thought he was. I asked, “Hey Dad, isn’t this insulting to the the Egyptians?”

    “Yes,” he answered, “but no one believes that stuff anymore. There is no one to insult.”

    Since I had been taught the virtue of tolerance, that didn’t seem fair; it was the first time I wondered how much intolerance is built into any religious belief.

  16. MutantJedi says

    I’m not sure I ever believed, as in a real person, in Santa. My parents would do much to make the magic seem real, which was fun. For example, one morning we woke up to find Santa’s footprints (cut out of white paper) on the carpet and that Rudolf’s red nose had bumped the window (cut out of red paper). It was the stuff of imagination so it wasn’t a big shift to understand that he was also imaginary.

    @a.human.ape, with my own kids, they got the cash regardless of their belief. That is, it is okay not to believe.

  17. Michelle R says

    You know, I don’t think I ever believed in Santa. I liked the character, sure, but my mom was very adamant on me knowing that the gifts came from HER and not from some random fat guy at the north pole. Santa was just the official mascot of the holiday. Sorta like a hockey team’s mascot.

    (that’s right. Baby Jesus wasn’t even the official mascot.)

  18. Michael says

    I never believed in Santa Claus, or the Tooth Fairy, or the Easter Bunny. My parents never pretended they were real.

    Perhaps for that reason my faith in God has survived intact. (I don’t remember a time before I had it — but of course I imbibed it from my parents — who didn’t give me a reason not to trust them by pretending to believe in things they didn’t believe in.)

    And now for my Christmas (Cephalopodmas?) present to all you atheists:

  19. Alverant says

    My parents never tried to get me to believe in Santa. They never tried to get me to believe in God either. So I was fortunate. Neither ideas make sense once you think about them and both require magic to work. Only thing is Santa more fun and meant for children, adults are suppose to know better.

  20. WowbaggerOM says

    I don’t recall when I stopped believing in Santa, but I do remembing that I actually did believe in him – which is kind of funny ’cause I never remember a time that I believed in God, despite my mother’s best efforts to raise me as a ‘Good Christian’. She gave up when I reached about 10 or so and refused to go to church anymore.

  21. Lyvvie says

    My brother shouted to me “Santa isn’t real! Mom and Dad buy all the presents!!” when I was 5 and he was annoyed at me for wanting a turn on the Tarzan swing. He was 12. I was crushed. Not because of Santa so much, but that Mom and Dad had lied to me. To make me go to bed!! I made a promise then to never lie to my kids about Santa. Because once Santa was gone, all the others fell away too. I’ve held to that promise. Only now my kids try and convince me Santa is real. You can’t fight Santa’s Media Machine!!

  22. Legion says

    When we were but four or five years of age, our eleven year old sister told us that Santa had been gunned down by gangsters, with tommy guns, in a drive-by shooting.

    “So don’t expect any presents,” she said.

    Yeah, she was that kind of big sister.

  23. bungoton says

    I stopped believing in Santa Claus when my 4 year old daughter told me about it. She came to me one day and explained that Santa Claus was really just mom and dad. My life hasn’t been the same since.

  24. Gyeong Hwa Pak, the Pikachu of Anthropology says

    I’ve nevered believed in Santa, but it’s largely due the fact that I was raised in a different cultural contacts. Instead I used to believe that demons would kidnap me if I dared to stay awake pass nine.

  25. tim Rowledge says

    I stopped believing in parents when I discovered that the man I thought was my father was actually Santa Claus. He had the suit’n’everything

  26. kjd1005 says

    I can’t remember. I never got anything good and always thought that Santa was a fx for giving me underware and socks. We got walnuts and oranges..

    I got a sled once… and a bike…

    A friend of mine, an artist, had some kids. He and his wife would put them to bed and then get the tree hidden in the back yard and put it up and decorate the tree and the living room and wrap and put all the presents and put together any toys and stuff and then leave the tree lights on and go to bed.

    I think they got a kick out of it.

    I went to Toys R Us with my son and picked out 250 bucks worth of crap, for the holiday and his bday on 1/2/10. The ex already got him a $250 or so IPOD touch and THEN she wants SANTA to get him $250 worth of opening day tickets for the Yankees.. and I’m like F santa if I am going to do that I WANT THE CREDIT!!!!

  27. Holytape says

    Don’t stop believing in the Hairy man. After all he died for your sins.

    I stopped believing in Santa Claus in Kindergarten. A kid I didn’t like was making fun of Santa Claus. So I told him that Santa Claus was his mother, and he was making fun of his mother, to try to make him feel bad. That’s when I realized there was really no Santa Claus, and Santa Claus was our parents. Enlightenment sucks sometimes.

  28. deriamis says

    My parents were never all that serious about Santa, so it was largely tongue-in-cheek even before it became blatantly obvious he didn’t exist. Even so, we kept up the act for quite some time until my sister and I finally let it go.

    Religion was similar – it was never pushed in our house, but it took a while to fade out of the picture for me. At some point I realized I had more questions about the beliefs I had than I could answer and gave up the pretense.

  29. Sastra says

    Atheists are divided on whether or not playing along with the Santa myth for your kids is harmless fun which may help innoculate them against future religious belief, or an insidious rehearsal for faith — “God on training wheels.” My own take is the former, but I was raised without religion.

    I do remember what it was like trying to hold on to belief in Santa as long as I could — the rationalizations, the compartmentalization, and of course, the strong sense that Santa had to be true because grown-ups treated the fact that I still believed with a strange and special sort of approval, as if I was extra-sensitive or sweet. I didn’t want to give that view of myself up. I think it allowed me to try on faith, and perhaps understand it a bit, for later.

  30. Sven DiMilo says

    kjd1005: Do what you want about Santa, but please, don’t let your kid believe in the fucking Yankess!

  31. Katrina says

    We’re letting our kids believe in Santa, but we’re not taking it too seriously. Our daughter (the one who is into science) got me in trouble when she was 5 for telling all her classmates there was no Santa. She has since reconsidered. I’m letting both she and her brother reason it out for themselves.

    I remember that my not believing was a gradual thing where I sort of transitioned into “playing along” with the idea of Santa. I expect that’s what’ll happen with my two youngest. That, or their 13-year-old brother will say something inappropriate.

    They’re both heavily into the Tooth Fairy, but then, there’s money involved in that.

    Still, one of their favorite “Christmas” movies is Hogfather, so we must be doing something right.

  32. spacefall says

    My parents never made too big a deal about Santa, but presents appeared overnight and the milk and cookies disappeared, so I never really had any reason to doubt, either. It just wasn’t too big a deal. A very annoying girl in my fourth grade class told me the truth just to be mean, and all I remember is how furious I was that I hadn’t figured it out first. And thus a future know-it-all skeptic was born. :)

  33. catgirl says

    I have a brother who is five years older than me, and he teased my constantly throughout my childhood. He used to make up ridiculous, pointless lies. So when I was five, he got annoyed by me talking about Santa and he told me that Santa isn’t real. The irony is that that’s the only time he ever told me the truth. Naturally I assumed he was lying, so I tattled to my mom, and she confirmed that Santa really doesn’t exist. Then she showed me the closet where all the wrapped gifts were hidden and that was that.

    Of course I realized that all the other characters were also made-up, so I stopped believing in the tooth fairy before I lost my first tooth. When I did lose that first one, I still wanted to believe, so I put it under my pillow and pretended I was asleep when the door opened, and I saw my mom trade the tooth for a dollar, and then I had no hope left. After that, I just traded the teeth directly to my mom for the money.

    When I found out about Santa, my mom warned me not to tell the other kids at school because they wouldn’t believe me. But I was in on this amazing secret and I just had to share. Of course, my mom was right and none of the kids believed me and I was so frustrated. One of the kids insisted that Santa must be real, because the tags on all his gifts said “From: Santa”. In his defense, he was only five years old when using that logic.

  34. Lynna, OM says

    I think I was about five years old when I figured out that there was no actual, physical Santa. But I also remember thinking it over for days and coming to the conclusion that my parents were delivering Santa-ness, like they were a pipeline or something.

    I used this rationalization to uphold the Santa myth for my little brothers — until, that is, they got old enough to start weighing all their gifts, then checking the weights against the catalogs we had in our rural Alaskan house. After that, there was no fighting reason and science.

    It’s a philosophical construct: most parents make an attempt to embody the spirit of the holidays, and therefore Santa is kinda, sorta real. That did not impress my rationalist brothers. I used it again on my daughter though — but she was so precocious that I had to bust the philosophy out of mothballs when she was only three years old. All those store Santas, they’re working for an idea, and are not impersonating an actual man. It’s a conspiracy to pretend to be good and generous in the hope that some actual goodness and generosity will stick — also a good excuse for lights in the long darkness of winter.

  35. Janine, She Wolf Of Pharyngula, OM says

    I kind of figured out the Santa bit when I was six and most of my gifts from Santa were the same toys my mom bought when we went shopping. For me, it was confirmed the next year. Santa stopped for a visit and when he left, I dashed to the window. Santa did not go up to the roof. Instead, he drove away. It was the principal of my school playing Santa. It was a small school and he was able to pull this off.

    It would be an other decade before I left behind my belief in god.

  36. Mr T says

    When I was about six years old, I remember telling a friend in my neighborhood that I didn’t believe in Santa. Before that, my memory of what I believed is very cloudy. I remember feeling that I should say it carefully, because apparently I was either concerned with his feelings or wasn’t completely sure that it was true.

    It took several more years to realize I didn’t believe in a god. Catholic school didn’t really help. I remember that by the time I was nine or ten, I already had some suspicions, and gradually I became less and less credulous of the entire enterprise. No religious people I’d met could answer simple questions asked by myself as a young teenager, so it wasn’t hard to realize theistic religions were a huge waste of time. Even then, I went through several phases involving Buddhism, Taoism, strict agnosticism, apathy, etc., and finally Militant New AtheismTM, with New and Improved Deep Rifts©.

    Really, I find it amazing how quickly some kids catch on, despite the best efforts of religionists to brainwash, propagandize, and otherwise distort the truth. This Santa and Easter Bunny stuff is mostly harmless, perhaps they can even help one recognize the absurdity of supernatural beliefs. However, it seems part of the goal is to instill an emotional dependence in children, as well as attempt to whitewash the negative aspects of their actual belief systems (e.g., Jesus condemns you to hell) by means of a childish surrogate (e.g., Santa puts coal in your stockings).

  37. Lyvvie says

    kjd1005 said: “… and I’m like F Santa if I am going to do that I WANT THE CREDIT!!!!”

    I feel exactly the same. When the kids ask me which present Santa brought them (To which I reply “Santa who?”) I always make sure he gets credit for the boring gift.

  38. blf says

    Huitzilopochtli doesn’t need human hearts offered to him for the sun to rise tomorrow.

    WHAT? That can’t be! I mean, I mean… If that nonsense were true, then what am I supposed to do with this gooey dripping mass of blood I just cut out of the former (ahem!) virgin? And I can see the Sun starting to rise, so clearly you’re wrong. Liar, liar, goats on fire! You must be one of those little poopyheads, trying to spoil a time-honoured proven traditional ceremony, freeloading on the valiant sacrifices made to get the Sun out of bed each morning.

    p.s.  Anyone got any good tips for cleaning bloodstains off the altar?

  39. DRD1812 says

    Heh. My parents were super-Pentecostals, of the type that didn’t allow TV, Christmas Trees, or pants on females.

    My father was also an asshole who ordered me to tell all the kids at school that Santa wasn’t real and that their parents were lieing to them. I got in trouble for that one.

    I never taught my own kids that Santa was real, but still do the decorating and stockings and such. They don’t seem stunted or anything. :)

  40. Caine says

    I stopped believing before I was 5, but my family didn’t really push the whole Santa belief.

  41. aratina cage says

    I was truly ignorant and credulous about the jolly man for far too long, so I heard that Santa wasn’t real for the first time from one of my teachers (basically, the last person in my age group to not get it) and to my horror, my younger brother confirmed it. Come to think of it, that was right before the time I started wondering why people conflated Jesus with God. The way I saw it, Jesus and God were distinct. After all, Jesus could walk on water and come back to life and calm the sea, but Moses could part an entire sea and nobody got him mixed up with God. With Santa, I really wanted to believe (that he was real) but was forced to stop; with Jesus, I didn’t want to believe (that he was God) but was duped into it anyway as I grew older.

  42. Rorschach says

    I read the comments of the Santa deconversions here and I feel weird, since I do not recall ever actually “believing” in Santa(or the German equivalent) as a real person, seemed pretty clear where the prezzies under the tree came from…..
    Then again, all these stories and movies about Santa( and to me, Santa is Tim Allen) seem to originate in the US, so maybe that’s why I was sheltered from that influence a bit.jadehawk might be able to comment on her experience.

  43. Mister Scowl says

    I always had my doubts about Santa,but they were confirmed when I was 5 or 6 and snuck downstairs one Christmas Eve night to find my parents wrapping presents. When I confronted them they tried telling me some story about being Santa’s Helpers but I wasn’t buying it. I told them that I didn’t care as long as I got my presents and they told me not to tell my brother or sister.

  44. Richard Eis says

    My parents did the whole sherry and cookies thing, but at about 6 i actually thought about it and realised what was really going on.

    It was no biggee, it was just a bit offputting that the parents fibbed. And tried to keep it going after I told them it was made up.

  45. Ellie says

    I beleived in Santa until I was maybe 7 or 8. My brother tried to convince me that Santa was fake but I would have none of it.. until I found a receipt for a toy that I’d wanted in the garbage. I promised myself that if that toy showed up from Santa, rather than from my parents, the jig was up. I actually wasn’t too disappointed to learn the truth.. the Santa story was fun, but I think I was happier to know that my parents were the ones who loved me and who watched me closely every year to figure out what I wanted, instead of some creepy old man who lives in a shack in the woods.

  46. Mick says

    A father goes to his 13 year old son and tells him it’s time they have a talk.
    The son says, “Dad, when I was 9 you told me there was no tooth fairy. When I was 10 you said the Easter Bunny isn’t real. At 11 you said there’s no Santa Claus. Now if you tell me grown ups don’t really have sex I’ll have no reason to live!”

  47. says

    I remember being disabused of the notion of Santa by some kid at school shortly after I turned 5. I don’t think I was particulrly upset, so long as the presents kept coming. I always was a venal little sod :-)

    I was far more devastated shortly after that to discover that grown-ups could be powerless (parents) or downright assholes (teacher) when my parents complained to my teacher that I was being bullied on a daily basis by a couple of second-graders and she promised to help, but when I went to her for help, the bitch told me I was ‘a big girl’ and could take care of it myself.

    No Santa was nothing compared to the shock of that.

  48. Orakio says

    When I was seven or so, right after my parents got divorced, I got shaken out of bed by my mother and told to help her bring ‘Santa’s’ presents down to the tree for my little sisters. “You’re Santa..? ‘Kay.” And that was pretty much the end of that.

    God took me twenty more years to shake – more indoctrination, plus the need to orient the proper null hypothesis.

  49. mattand08 says

    I began to suspect something was up when I started to notice Toys ‘R Us stickers on some of the board games. I think I rationalized it as Santa was subcontracting to get the gifts out. I don’t remember being disappointed, but it was also 35 years ago.

    I’m surprised this thread hasn’t gotten more heated. The only other time I’ve read a Santa/skepticism discussion was on Skepchik. One guy was defending playing the Santa game with his kids and the reactions were brutal. IIRC, it seemed like he probably would have gotten less shit if he had been trying to convert everyone to Christianity.

  50. andreasj says

    For some reason TypePad no longer allows me to sign in here, so I’m posting via Google. Sorry about the idiotic handle which I don’t know how to change.

    I can’t recall ever believing in Santa Claus. I certainly didn’t by the Xmas when I was five, the earliest one I recall, and when my mother made no serious attempt at hiding the fact that “Santa” was actually her (she simply wore a Santa masque with her normal clothes).

  51. history punk says

    My ex-boss was told by his father that Christmas canceled because the North Koreans had shot down Santa’s sleigh.

  52. Forbidden Snowflake says

    I can’t believe nobody linked to the Cectic series on External Delivery yet. It’s maybe the bestest parody on ID evah.


    It’s not Santa Claus, it’s External Delivery!

  53. Celtic_Evolution says

    I was raised in a catholic household… I remember I was about 8 or 9 when I finally learned Santa was not real, but I had doubted for years. For the first couple of years, I avoided trying to find out the truth because I didn’t want the magic to end… when it finally did, it was because I went and actively tried to find out. It was sort of funny to me how easy it was to find out once I decided I wanted to. At any rate, I was not as upset as I thought it would be, as I had suspected it was all a big put-on anyhow.

    Now as a parent, I struggled for a time with how to approach it. As Sastra pointed out earlier, I was of two minds on the subject. Ultimately I chose to incorporate the Santa myth, with the provision that I would always tell her honestly if she were to ask.

    My reasoning for going ahead with the Santa myth is mainly for the harmless fun of it. Much of her early childhood has been surrounded by fairy-tales and stories that have helped her construct some of her morals (I know, this is a common argument for a value of religion, and frankly, if much of the bible wasn’t so steeped in vile hatred and psychotic behavior of a petulant, jealous god, I’d be just fine with using some of the tales in the bible as a set of stories to help establish a moral compass, much like Aesop’s fables)… and at it’s heart, the concept of Santa as an altruistic, loving, selfless gift-giver is a fine one for kids to attach themselves to. In fact, I’ve often thought that Santa worship would be a far more benevolent pursuit than christianity.

    I’ve never used the “if you’re bad, Santa knows it and will give you nothing for Christmas” method, as I think it’s as abhorrent a behavioral tool as the “hell” concept from christianity. My daughter is now 8, and I think this might be the year she finally asks “the question”. And once it is asked, the myth will cease, and we will sit down with her and explain to her why we chose to tell her the myth of Santa. I think, based on how we’ve raised her so far, she will understand after a time.

  54. says

    Stop? I never had to start. In my family, we were never obliged to believe in Santa Claus. Then again, my parents never took us to church either. Our parents found out the church priests was collaborating with the Nazis (hey, it’s almost as bad as kiddie-diddling), and many of those same priests escaped to our country (one step ahead of war-crimes trials and the noose), so my parents weren’t the least bit interested in having us raised in their faith or any other. We did have a christmas tree, but we knew from the get-go the presents were from our parents and their friends. Why shouldn’t we? We went shopping with our mother when they were picked out.

  55. says

    Damn cut and paste – it should be the priests in their native country collaborated with the Nazis.

  56. Andreas Johansson says

    @Nerd: Thank you. The problem appears to have been that I did not log out of TypePad before trying to sign in here previously. (Now why on Earth should that be necessary?!?)

  57. Kevin says

    Good for her. I’m not sure if her revelation was right, and she’ll probably question it again in the future, but hopefully she’ll come up with a better analysis than ‘god doesn’t exist because he didn’t make the salt shaker fall over.’

    I think I stopped believing in Santa Claus when I was 10 or so. Our parents told us a few years later (when my sister was 11) and I knew already. None of us were devastated.

    Santa is a fun idea, a cheerful guy delivering good cheer to the world. It’s an idea for youth, “behave or Santa won’t come” but there is a time to put away childish things, and Santa is probably the first thing I put away.

    Now the Easter Bunny, he’s where it’s at.

  58. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    My own three-year old daughter doesn’t disbelieve in Santa Claus, but she asserts that He has nothing to do with HER presents in particular. Rather, she avows that Jack Skellington is her sole benefactor. He is superior to Santa in that he has no “naughty or nice” rubric, but rather bestows gifts in quantities correlated with one’s devotion to him. My daughter is devout, and therefore knows where her bread is buttered.

    I personally hate Christmas, but no one else in my family seems to, so I’ll be playing Jack this year. I considered doing a Grinch improvisation afterward, but that might land my ass in divorce court, or at best, therapy.

  59. Somnolent Aphid says

    I love this time of year. It shows the social, psychological and pathological depths we’ll sink to in order to keep a dead belief system in tact for one more generation. On the news last night, they put a bunch of cancer kids on an actual jet plane in order to pretend that they were flying to the pole, and upon “arrival” there were the Clause’s and their helpers. How warped is that?

  60. Paul W. says

    I stopped believing as a kindergartener. My first-grader sister and I found a few presents hidden in my mother’s closet, and got suspicious.

    My mother had a talk with my sister, and then my sister came to me and said “Mama told me to tell you there really is a Santa Claus, but she told me there really isn’t.”

    I was fucking furious and went to my mother and told her to tell me the truth. She hemmed and hawed a bit and I demanded the truth, so she told me.

    Three years later I had a crisis of faith. I couldn’t love Jesus if he was going to burn me in Hell if I didn’t. I just didn’t get it how god could be so loving and so clearly evil.

    I talked to my mother and she hemmed and hawed about how maybe Hell isn’t really a place, and it’s just not going to Heaven.

    That didn’t impress me much. I knew what it was like not to be invited to a birthday party, and feel hurt and left out. he idea of not being invited to the party, forever seemed infinitely cruel.

    At that point I still believed—how could I disagree with all the grown-ups? I was just a dumb kid.

    So I knew I was going to Hell, because it was all presumably true, but I just couldn’t love a god who wouldn’t invite me to the party if I didn’t. What an asshole… but if I thought God was an asshole, I must be evil… WTF? Guilt city, except not really—mostly just gut-wrenching fear. Fuck ’em, but I’m doomed. Ack!

    I kept that from my parents. I figured it wouldn’t do them any good to know their little boy was doomed to go to Hell. They’d try and get me to accept and love God, and I wouldn’t be able to do it, and it would be a very bad scene, with no resolution.

    Then when I was in third grade I broke down and discussed that stuff with my oldest sister, a grown-up, who said that she knew a lot of people who didn’t believe in God at all, and a whole lot of people who didn’t think God would burn a little boy in Hell forever just for not liking the idea of Hell.

    Her husband mentioned Bertrand Russell, a very smart man who thought that the whole thing was nuts, so I secretly got Why I am Not a Christian out of the public library and read most of it.

    BOOM!, I was a convinced atheist. It all made sense if you just realized that the smart money was on there not being a God, certainly not a torturer god—i.e., that none of that crap is true and most people are kinda nuts.

    I kept my atheism a secret for years and years, going to Church and CCD (Catholic Sunday school) every week, until my next-older sister spilled the beans on that, too, when I was in 8th or 9th grade.

    She was coming up for Confirmation, second chance I think, and having a crisis of faith about whether she was really Catholic, like my mom, or just a generic Christian like my Dad. It was time to put up or shut up.

    To deflect the crisis about that, she told my mother that at least she was a Christian—and that I’d been an atheist since third grade.

    Uh oh. I’d been planning on keeping it a secret from my parents at least until I went away to college, and maybe forever.

    There was a bit of a bad scene, to put it mildly.

    But then my mother gave up on me—in more ways than one, I think.

    At least I never had to go to church again.

  61. LinzeeBinzee says

    My Christian friend gave away Santa Claus for me. It was sad…I guess Santa is too silly to believe but God is not. They also ruined one Halloween when they convinced my parents that Halloween is evil or something…it was shit. We went to a Halloween party at a Church, and got a lowsy handfull of candy.

  62. Gus Snarp says

    I was just trying to figure out why she chose to call him the hairy man. I mean, sure, he’s got a beard and all, but why this new term for Santa? I always thought the Hairy Man was a character in a Southern folktale. Apparently there’s also a Russian Hairy Man. But never heard it used for Santa Claus.

  63. Gilraen says

    After way too long a time, I finally figured out the stupid registration/sign-in stuff! Thanks to others for posting helpful info. First time post!

    Re #11 — I also figured it out when I noticed Santa’s handwriting was the same as my mom’s. I was somewhat disappointed, but not much.

    I was also one of those terrible parents who refused to lie to their children about Santa — or any of the other make-believe creatures.

  64. says

    I still believe in Santa!!!

    The rest of you are fools. There are books out there – even MOVIES OF HIM. Every year he performs the miracle of the reindeer. I see him in malls. The evidence that he exists is overwhelming.

    I have been devoting a lot of energy to santaism, attempting to argue inductively that santa probably gave us the universe. It would certainly explain how something came from nothing, huh? And the similarity between the chimney/stocking and the “big bang” is not just metaphorical.

    You unbelievers are doomed to stockings full of coal. Which emits greenhouse gasses when burned. So you smug new anti-santaists should all stop trying to make things worse. You’re just alienating people.

  65. says

    (Marcus Ranum)
    Wow. The sign-in system appears to set new standards for “suck”

    Why don’t scienceblogs’ “coders” just add a simple sb-centric login/ID and stop trying to integrate all the various web2.0 bullshitsucksuckframeworks? Keep it simple, gooners.

  66. SteveM says

    Rev BDC@67:

    wait Santa isn’t real?

    Now now, that wasn’t the question. Whether one believes in Santa has no bearing on his actual existence.

  67. skylyre says

    Like a bunch of you guys up there, I don’t think I ever really believed in Santa. It’s like I played along as a kid, leaving out cookies and writing a letter here and there, but I never thought there was some man who actually flew around with magical reindeer and brought presents to everyone. I think I went unquestioningly along with it until I was old enough (7) to actually question it, at which time it seemed silly.

    I have a 3 year old and we do the Santa thing, but mostly for fun. I try to keep it that way too; no telling her “Santa is REAL” and as soon as she asks any questions, she’ll get honest answers.

  68. Steven Mading says

    I think its cute how the transcript referred to the children with the title “Mr” and Ms”.

  69. Rutee, Shrieking Harpy of Dooooom says

    “then I’ll only have John Jameson left to believe in.
    I’ll be off crying into my pillow if you need me.”

    John Jameson is a lie.

    There is only The World’s Most Interesting Man.

  70. Kay-the-fish says

    I was about 11 or 12 and I was reading a novel about Santa Clause, I asked my Mom and she said he wasn’t real. But, then I asked her about the Santa at the mall who, when I sat on his knee at age 7 or 8, already new my name and what I wanted for Christmas (it wasn’t cold-reading either). Turns out, the man dressed up as Santa at that mall was a friend of my Dad’s from work, and they had set the whole thing up. It was that incident that had kept me believing for so long.

    We have always told our kids that there was no Santa. My 3 year old is a little confused because kids shows on TV have Santa in them, though, and I should have censored better.

  71. B166ER says

    I was raised without religion and my questions were answered with science and history textbooks, but my mom loves Santa Clause and all of his incarnations. She see’s it as a holiday for children, and the older I get I find I’m able to argue against that less and less, no matter how much bah humbug directed at commercialism I feel. I was probably 7 when all the problems of the ‘Santa Hypothesis’ came crashing down upon itself. The biggest nails in it’s coffin for me were the flying around the entire world in a night, how Santa had the same handwriting as my mother, the whole breaking and entering part (we didn’t have a chimney, so it was squeezing through the heater vent according to my mom), that he lived in the North Pole even though its just ice and it isn’t even a continent, and the fact that even though Santa supposedly loved all children equally, he only gave presents to the kids in places that celebrated Christmas. Being raised to view religion as mythos and look at the world through the lens of the Enlightenment, Santa never had a chance. It doesn’t help that I’ve always questioned everything like a Catholic goes to confessional.

    No Gods, No Masters

  72. gtpooh says

    I was very young, maybe less than three. Every Christmas we went to the Rockwell company party and I got my picture taken with Santa. One year Santa removed his glove and I saw his hand was scarred like my grandpa’s . . then I realized it WAS my grandpa. I don’t recall any crisis . . I pretty much thought grandpa was the best person in the world. Long after I had worked my way through various religions I continued to use him as a moral compass . . .well into my 30s if I was faced with a decision about behavior I would just ask myself, “could I tell Grandpa I did this?”

  73. SEF says

    @ Antiochus Epiphanes #68:

    I considered doing a Grinch improvisation afterward, but that might land my ass in divorce court, or at best, therapy.

    Would that be therapy for you (for even thinking it might be a good idea) or for the child(ren) you traumatised?!

    I’m another who never believed in Santa – though not for any lack of family trying to impose the belief. I was careful to check out straight away (aged 3 or 4) that my parents were, as I suspected, lying to me – and hence that they didn’t really believe in Santa either. I was then horrified / disgusted to find, somewhat later on, that the adult god-botherers at church actually took the god thing seriously and weren’t aware of being involved in a similar pantomime over god.

  74. Orson Zedd says

    I really wish I still believed in Santa Claus. He was so reassuring. He rewarded good behavior, and never damned anyone to Hell. In a lot of ways, he was better than יהוה. Santa you knew loved you. יהוה was supposed to be the personification of love, but he’d send people who didn’t believe in him to Hell for some reason.

    I found out Santa wasn’t real at the age of 12. Truthfully, I had my doubts before then. I didn’t want to sop believing in him, because I loved the idea of Santa Claus.

    I’ve learned that, even as an adult, I still love Santa Claus. He was more of a god to me than יהוה ever was.

  75. Muzakbox says

    I don’t remember when I stopped believing but my son who is 10 keeps arguing that there is a Santa. And I asked him do you believe in God and he said “Of course not Mom.” “Why?” “Because there is no proof.” “Then why do you believe in Santa?” “Because there’s no way you and Dad bought me all those gifts.”

    I actually think that he’s having a hard time giving it up because it’s the only god story he’s ever known. It comes with both the carrot (presents) and the stick (be naughty and you get nothing but coal) and it is reinforced in society. Plus Santa wrote him letters and ate the cookies and the reindeer ate the carrots and left footprints. I guess I shouldn’t have overdone it with my love of the theatrical.

  76. somerandomgyrl says

    I never believed in Santa Claus or God. But my parents were Chinese immigrants, so there wasn’t really any kind of tradition to enforcing the idea of Santa. Also, in contrast to other people’s experiences about other kids believing in Santa, there never seemed to be an incident where this came up (it might have to do with the fact that the area I live in is pretty diverse, with lots of people from immigrant families). I do remember wanting to believe in Santa though.