How you found out Santa didn't exist, ranked from horrifyingly traumatic to traumatically horrifying

SPOILER alert: Santa isn’t real. But did you learn the truth in the most traumatising way possible? Find out:

Playground gossip

Playgrounds are teeming with rumours. Some, like the one where if you step on a crack in the pavement you’ll break your dad’s back, are clearly bullshit. Others, like the one about year six teacher Mr Bishop hooking up with the secretary, are based in grim fact. Santa not existing belongs in the latter category, as you found out when the tough kids laughingly told you.

A vindictive sibling

The ultimate betrayal. A member of your own family – your own flesh and blood – gleefully shattered your youthful innocence, all because you went into their bedroom without asking permission. You bided your time and finally got your revenge years later when you ‘accidentally’ let slip to your parents that they smoked weed.

Your parents sat you down and told you

In their defence you were 12. You’d long stopped believing in the tooth fairy and the Easter bunny, and it was time to put a bullet in the idea of Santa too. Plus maintaining the pretence was no longer financially viable. Incidentally, this was also the first time they floated the idea of you getting a paper round and starting to buy your own shit.

A bungling grandparent

You were the perfect age for this accidental revelation to leave permanent emotional damage. But how was your loving granddad supposed to know that the Tomy train set he proudly told you he paid for was meant to be from Santa? He barely knows what day it is half the time, let alone that he’s covering for a fictional character. It’s time you got over this one.

A bastard teacher

This one hurts because there was intent behind it. Your maths teacher Mr Hobbs never liked you, and he exacted petty revenge by gleefully revealing the truth about Santa during a lesson about long division. You’re having the last laugh though because you’re an adult now and you’re not doomed to the life of a maths teacher. Unless you are, in which case sorry.

Your own detective work

This is the most traumatically horrifying way of learning Santa isn’t real because you only have yourself to blame. Yes, your doubts about his existence were warranted, but upon finding all the presents under your parents’ bed you had to process your discovery by yourself. Plus you came across lots of weird magazines and underwear while rummaging around. If anything they f**ked you up even more.

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The best Christmas gifts if you have an emotionally distant relationship with your father

NEVER felt loved or supported by your own father? Your Christmas gift shouldn’t reveal your true feelings, so here are some ideal for emotionally stunted dads:

Football merchandise

The football merchandise industry hinges on the fact that supporting the same team is often the only source of conversation between fathers and sons, and a missed penalty is the only time you’re allowed to shed a tear in one another’s company. 

Focus on the Premier League side you’ve never really supported but pretend to love because a passion for Arsenal is the only thing he’s passed down to you, besides male pattern baldness. Don’t dredge up footballing memories like him not coming to your under-10s five-a-side final despite promising he would. Uncle Terry needed to borrow a drill more than you needed love, apparently. 

Novelty T-shirts and mugs

Perhaps a ‘World’s Best Dad’ mug will inspire him to do better, but there’s a chance he’ll take it literally due to being emotionally clueless. Try not to think too hard about whether he’d ever give you a ‘World’s Greatest Son’ or ‘Best Daughter on the Planet’ T-shirt. He wouldn’t. If you really want to say the quiet part out loud, get him a ‘You’ve Been Like a Father to Me’ Christmas card. 

Nazi stuff

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Dads love Nazis. Or, more specifically, they love imagining how they would have fared during wartime, perhaps fantasising about how they would have personally clung to the top of a steam train to Berlin to assassinate Hitler, or some other Alistair MacLean nonsense. 

Any books or DVDs about the war are sure to be a hit, the more derring-do the better. Never let on that you’re choking back tears because your father shows more interest in Rommel’s progress in North Africa than he ever has in yours. 

Fishing memorabilia

Dads are frequently into fishing, which appeals to their unused hunter-gatherer instincts. Or, in his case, his ‘Get away from the family and sit in silence for vast stretches of time’ instincts. Any ‘Would rather be fishing’ signs, keyrings or mugs will do nicely for Christmas. 

Alternatively if you’re feeling bitter and he doesn’t actually like fishing, get him one of the innumerable crap fishing gifts available, eg. a ‘The Rodfather’ T-shirt. It will prove that two can play the taking-no-interest-in-each-other’s-hobbies game, even if you’re crying inside.