Santa Claus. Maybe this is just too much sugar-coated goodwill for you. What are you, some kind of Nazi?

I was six or seven when I found out that Santa Claus wasn’t “real.” Two bullies a grad older than me spent a day tracking down little kids and mocking them for believing in such a big, fat lie. Of course, I knew that anything that came out of their mouths wasn’t to be trusted, but I began to suspect that Father Christmas wasn’t quite what my parents told me. Nevertheless, I never bitched about it. Neither did my younger brother–to this day, I don’t know for sure whether he believes in Santa Clause, and he’s twenty-six. We both faithfully filled out our Christmas lists and unwrapped the presents we received on Christmas morning with glee, until we were “too old for it.” It wasn’t that we were worried that we wouldn’t get as many presents–well, ok. We were kids. We worried a little bit. But it was pretty obvious that Santa Claus used the same wrapping paper as we did, that we never sent our Christmas lists to the North Pole, and that the guy that showed up to pass out candy and gifts at my grandparents’ house every year looked a lot like my Uncle Dave. I think we understood, even as little kids, that Santa Claus isn’t for children. I mean, you can give exactly the same number of present to your kids whether you tell them they’re from Mom and Dad or from some guy in a red suit that hangs out at the mall when he’s not at the North Pole. Why for the parents? Santa Claus is every generous thing in a parent’s heart. The gifts that Santa brings don’t need to be paid back in gratitude. Santa doesn’t bring socks and underwear. Santa brings stuff that your parents won’t let you have for no good reason (Santa brought me, every year, an extra-large jar of olives. And I could eat ’em until I was sick). And no matter how bad you are, Santa doesn’t really leave coal in your stocking, because he knows that all kids are good at heart, no matter how much your parents yelled at you today. My parents got to play pretend one (two, if you count Easter) days a year.

How could I spoil that?