Written by Megan Li
Growing up, Santa Claus wasn’t ever a huge part of my family’s Christmas. We never left milk and cookies out or sent letters stuffed with mile-long wishlists every holiday season, but I still never once doubted his existence. In my young mind, it was absolutely incomprehensible to even suggest that the holly, jolly old man wasn’t real—after all, not only did I receive that pack of Mr. Sketch markers I had oh-so-badly wanted, but he also signed his name gracefully on every single present. With those solid pieces of evidence, who was I to question anything?
That all changed when I was rudely yanked out of my fresh-faced reverie on a fateful Christmas Day nearly ten years ago.
In the days leading up to Dec. 25, 2007, I had been in quite a few heated debates with my older brother over Santa’s existence; he had already been painfully disillusioned and was bent on ruining my childhood as well. But being the avid Kris Kringle fan that I was, I only crossed my arms, stamped my foot and dubbed him a sad non-believer.
Come Christmas morning, I flew out of my room in an excited frenzy to see what old St. Nick had placed under my tree over the night. While checking the tags for my name, I stumbled upon something terrible: “Santa” had been grotesquely misspelled as “Stana.” To any other child it wouldn’t have been a big deal—Santa can make mistakes too—but my confidence had been shaken by my brother’s impassioned arguments and it seemed highly unlikely that the mythological man would spell his simple, five-letter name incorrectly.
In an attempt to prove my doubts wrong, I scampered to my parents’ room and shook my mother awake. I demanded to know why Santa couldn’t even spell his own name. Was it because he was too busy handwriting every card and was so tired that he rearranged the letters? It wasn’t because he wasn’t real like my brother had been trying to convince me—right?
Understandably irritated with my hysterics at such an early hour, my parents decided that it was time for me to learn the harsh truth of the real world. To them, I was old enough that they could drop the whole “Santa’s real, don’t worry!” schtick. To me, it was like my world was crashing down around me, and I would be lying if I said no bitter tears were wept on that cold morning.
When school started again, I was sorely tempted to bring everybody down with me in a textbook example of the phrase “misery loves company.” I decided against it, though, and instead opted to sit in silence. Other kids would learn of the truth in the years to come, while I, in the meantime, learned to thank my parents every year instead of that fictitious, red-clad figure.