To enlarge on the theme a bit, if you want to chime in with a similar anecdote about a different religious or cultural folk belief similarly aimed at little kids, go right on ahead and take the poll, and post your story.
I set this up as a poll to encourage frank responses from those of us who might feel uncomfortable admitting to the actual age. Today I learned that someone I know believed in Santa Claus until she was eleven or twelve (she’s not positive about the exact year). I don’t know what’s more mind-boggling – that she did, or that she’s so comfortable admitting it.
I’m pretty sure I was 10. I had a younger brother who was 8 at the time and although I was reaching the bounds in incredulity with it, my parents managed to keep me convinced in order to keep it alive for yet another year for my brother.
So, grade 4, 1972, 9 years old I still believed. By 1973 the cat was out of the bag.
My parents raised me with the idea that Santa is a nice fairy tale like the Disney movies, my storybooks, etc. I was supposed to keep quiet about that, though, because some kids believed he was real and it’d be mean to spoil it.
My husband learned the truth at age 5. He hid in the corner behind the big Christmas tree, and when his parents were putting the presents out, he indignantly yelled that they’d lied to him, and his dad started screaming back at him. (He had a really messed-up childhood.)
Oh, and I had a boss who was sure that his daughter still believed at (IIRC) age 10. They kept hoping she’d figure it out on her own as a “spirit of Christmas” type of lesson, but she kept hanging on and didn’t ask any of the sorts of leading questions that would prompt such a reveal. Apparently she was hanging onto her belief, confidently, even though many/most of her classmates said they didn’t believe. By that point they were really hoping for that rather than the kind of debriefing that’d be required of a True Believer.
Me, I was hoping that she secretly knew, but figured she’d get more toys if she insisted that she still believed in Santa.
I’m not sure what to make of that; were you acting so excitedly or whatever in the 5th grade? In any event, yes, you do, for such a detailed answer. And have a cookie!
Yours is an interesting tack for parents to take; your husband’s childhood sounds horrible (but blackly funny now). I hope he can laugh at it now… Incidentally, do you two have any kids… and what approach are you taking/did you take with them?
There was no option for, “I can’t remember that far back.” But if forced, I’d say somewhere between never and 10. I can remember specific times when ‘Santa … wink - wink’ was common, as in, parents say 'Santa will get that for you, but we really know I’m paying for it."
On the other hand, I can distinctly recall trying to float some half-baked 10-year-old’s rationalization about believing in the spirit of the season which some may call Santa, or something equally dopey, just so I couldn’t be pegged into either believer/non-believer pigeon hole.
I guess, the idea of Santa always filled me with some sense of incredulity, just as any other myth had. That is, for every reason I couldn’t figure out how Noah could get two of every animal on one big boat, I was equally flummoxed as to how Santa could squeeze down a chimney.
No kids for us. I’ve never wanted them, and my husband’s childhood was partially a deterrent for him. I’m not sure what we’d have done if we had. I don’t think my parents’ method ruined anything for me; I didn’t even remember whether I knew or didn’t until I asked my mom how I figured out Santa wasn’t real, assuming I’d just had the secret blown very young.
I might well have done similarly, making it out to be a wonderful story (Santa = spirit of Christmas, like my parents did) and game, and we don’t ruin other people’s games even if they play differently than we do.
No idea. I think I just intuited it somewhere along the way at an early age. My poor daughter, on the other hand, found out in her 5th grade class when the teacher said “did you know that some children your age still believe in Santa?”. Everybody laughed: she was stunned. She’s always been a gullible girl.
Ladies and gentlemen, I post here, for your consideration, one of the funniest things I’ve ever read. It merits inclusion into the canon of holiday-themed classics, even though it was first published in SPY magazine in 1990 and is fully loaded with math figures & physics concepts & stuff. (Too bad this link doesn’t include the caricature that illustrated the original.)
It was in 3rd or fourth grade my parents pulled me aside and told me that Santa didn’t exist. I remember the conversation but I don’t remember the year. We’ve kept pretending for the last 20 odd years because its fun, originally it was for my little sister I don’t know when she figured it out or how but some where along the line we all knew it was just for fun.