questionshow and when did you find out santa doesn't exist?

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Don't know how old but I always liked hiding under in the sewing machine cabinet. It had the front door that swung out to hold up the table arm. But when closed, it created a nice little cubby for a little girl.

Opened it one time to find it full of Christmas presents from Santa and realized that the writing matched my mom's.

On the other hand, we did such a good job with my son that I had to break the news to him before he went to 6th grade in middle school.

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I honestly don't remember how or when I found out. I guess either it was not traumatic, or so traumatic I have blocked it out from my memory.

I know I still thought he existed around 3rd grade, because I remember coming into the living room where a big train set had been set up (by "Santa" (spoiler: actually my brother and mom) and I thought it was the COOLEST THING EVER.

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My mom was an early labeler and one year I found a stash of presents labeled: "From Santa". They later ended up under the tree and I figured it all out. I think I was 17.

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I was pretty late to find out, I think because I didn't really want to know.

It was in 5th grade, and the teacher was discussing something I don't even remember at this point, and said "...like how parents tell their kids that Santa is real." As I was thinking, "wait, what?" I started looking around the room and saw all my classmates nodding along. I was very startled, but at the same time I was thinking "well, that makes sense."

I didn't tell my mother, though, because I was the youngest and she seemed to enjoy pretending. In a reversal of roles, I finally told her around the time I entered high school (although I hoped she knew by then).

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I think I was in kindergarten? The other kids mentioned Santa and when I went home and asked, my parents told me the real story.

We're a Jewish family, btw, so it's not like they ruined my childhood with that or anything.

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My parents made sure never to burden me with any Santa nonsense.

There was one minor mishap from this though. My mom recently recalled a story of when I was in kindergarten, and she needed to be spoken to by the principal because I was telling kids that Santa was a "big fat phony" .

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::sobs:: LAST YEAR VIA ASK THE COMMUNITY. Broke my heart, well it would if I still had one.

No, I'm just kidding. I think it was pretty early on, though. I was always hanging out with older kids and it likely came up. I wasn't too traumatized, because the goal then became to figure out where my parents hid the extra stash of loot before it appeared under the tree. New information, new challenges and all that.

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I have never stopped believing since I realized long ago that it was more than just some fat guy going around at night breaking into houses and eating sweets. (Also because the idea of Santa was based on St. Nicholas who would give presents to the children in his village way back when.) To me it was always more so about the feeling of goodwill and generosity that the holidays are all about. The personification of that idea was just a marketing ploy to make some money off an abstract idea.

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My son -- who is 42 -- still get Christmas gifts from Santa. It's an ongoing family tradition.

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@inkycatz: When my son was small I swapped gift-hiding space with neighbors who had a daughter. Even if the kids found the stash, they'd still be kerfluffled.

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Thanks for your stories, everyone. I'm kind of surprised no one was as distraught as me when finding/figuring out the truth. I'm also surprised at the vitriol this Q inspired...but, whatever.

@figaroess: I think I was sort of in the same camp. I'm pretty sure it hit me so hard because I sort of knew he couldn't exist, but didn't want to admit it. So when these older kids came by, they just removed that last morsel of hope. Being alone with no one to explain it to me could have had something to do with it.

When I think back to how I felt and to avoid the potential for an, albeit rare, traumatic revelation, it seems like I should be proactive and make sure my children learn early from me or plan some type of ruse where the kids sort of discover it on their own--perhaps like how most of you found "Santa" gifts stored away and started asking questions.

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I still can barely stand to remember it. Awful experience, exposing mom and dad red handed, with my inconsolable brother making it tons worse. One of the more traumatic experiences of my childhood, but still mostly because my brother completely lost it and went to school and ruined it for everyone else. I think he's still pissed at his mom and we're in our forties.

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@zuiquan: LOL. :) As for the OP, I can't really pinpoint the moment...alcohol has probably erased that part of my brain.