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    "My Brother And I Set A Trap For Santa": 24 People Who Unfortunately Learned The Hard Way About Santa

    "The neighbor kid’s dad was a preacher. She told me believing in Santa was the same as worshiping Satan."

    We asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us the story of how they learned who Santa really is. The stories range from kind of heartbreaking to surprisingly funny. Here's what people shared:

    1. "I was terrified of Santa, and on Christmas Eve night, I wouldn't be able to sleep — not from excitement, but from pure fear. My bottom stair would creak when stepped on, and I heard it once late at night on Christmas Eve and absolutely lost it from sheer terror. I used to write letters to Santa asking him for his phone number and telling him he wasn't allowed to come into my room. It got to the point where I was crying one night because I didn't want Santa to come into my house or my bedroom, so my mom told me, 'Santa isn't real. I'm Santa.' At first, I thought she was lying to me to make me feel better, but then, once I realized she was telling the truth and Santa wasn't real, it was actually the first Christmas Eve I slept peacefully."


    2. "I woke up on Christmas morning with all the lights off, no presents under the tree, cookies still whole, and milk untouched. I knocked on my mom's door and and asked why Santa hadn’t stopped at our house. She *GASPED* and sprung out of bed shouting, 'Go back to your room!! Go back to your room!!' So, I did, and all I could hear was frantic rustling back and fourth for 30 minutes while my parents set up for Christmas morning! They had overslept, and that was my confirmation that Santa was, indeed, my parents."


    Ed Asner as Santa Claus in "Elf"

    3. "My folks decided not to do 'Santa' with us kids. My mom had been devastated as a child when she found out Santa wasn't real, and therefore, didn't want to lie to her own children. We grew up and enjoyed Christmas without all of the Santa stuff. We knew not to say anything about it to other little kids, though. I appreciate it now as an adult more than ever."


    4. "I was a baby genius who could read at age 4. My Littlest Pet Shop toy said 'Made in Taiwan' on the box. My parents fessed up when I also asked about the handwriting similarities between my mom and Santa, who had written me a letter rejecting my request to join him at the North Pole as an elf. I think this was the year The Santa Clause came out. I wanted to be one of those kids."


    Tim Allen as Santa Claus in "The Santa Clause"

    5. "The neighbor kid’s dad was a preacher. She told me believing in Santa was the same as worshiping Satan, and my parents and I were were going to hell. And so was our dog. WTF?"


    6. "My brother and I set a trap for Santa. We lined the small ledge inside our fireplace with jingle bells so we would hear him come down the chimney. They were still there in the morning because our parents had no idea we had done it!"


    Cartoon Santa

    7. "I think I was in 5th grade at the time. But anyways, we had this tradition that we would always go to my neighbor's for Christmas dinner. I got so excited to tell her that I got a bike, and she told me she knew because my parents asked her to keep it in her garage. I guess I had failed to mention that Santa had gotten me that bike."


    8. "We moved to the US when we were young. The English language was still quite foreign to my mom then. When I was 8, I received some money as a Christmas gift. I knew then Santa wasn't real when I saw 'Love, Santa' written on the envelope in my mom's undeniable handwriting, followed by an inscription of 'Ha Ha Ha!' She'd gotten it confused with 'Ho Ho Ho!' To this day, the sweet memory always makes me chuckle in gratitude."


    Santa's elf going over a list

    9. "I was swimming with one of my dad’s friend's daughters. She blurted out that Santa wasn’t real randomly after doing a handstand. I went and told my dad in total shock. The only thing he said to me was, 'Don’t tell your sister.' Okay…cool. I was 8."


    10. "I was probably around 4th or 5th grade watching that Tooth Fairy movie with The Rock. I hesitantly asked my mom if the Tooth Fairy was actually real, and she went, 'Do you THINK the Tooth Fairy’s real?' It escalated into Santa and the Easter Bunny thereafter, lol."


    Cartoon Santa

    11. "My parents are pastors. We were told that Santa is fun make-believe, but not real because he wasn’t Jesus. I got in trouble in first grade a lot for telling my classmates that Santa wasn’t real and that their parents were liars."


    12. "When I was 6 years old, I went with my parents and younger brother on a Polar Express-style train ride near the Grand Canyon. Think pajamas, hot chocolate, and lots of little kids. As we went along, there were 'Santa’s Workshop' and 'North Pole' props set up that we could see from the window. I realized that they weren’t actual buildings and yelled out, 'That’s not real. They’re all cardboard!' My parents were horrified and immediately told me to hush. Luckily, my little brother and the other kids didn’t hear me, so I only ruined it for myself. Still love Christmas, though!"


    Santa Claus

    13. "I was really dumb, lol. I never figured it out. One random morning before school when I was, like, 10, my dad got fed up I guess and was like, 'Santa is your parents, the Tooth Fairy is your parents, and the Easter Bunny is your parents.' I still don’t know what provoked it, but it’s funny. LMAO."


    14. "I was 10, and my mom was doing work on the computer. My sister told me to come see her because she 'found something cool.' I went to our mom’s room with her, and she showed me a crawl space (like a tiny closet), and in there was all of our Christmas presents. Then, we got caught. Feeling upset and guilty, I asked my mom if this meant Santa wasn’t real, and she said something like, 'He’s real if you want him to be.'"


    Santa looking upward

    15. "When I was about 9, all I wanted was Dogz 4, if anyone remembers that computer game. Growing up, none of Santa's gifts were ever wrapped, so my brother and I knew which ones where from 'him.' That year, I got the game I wanted, but it had a price tag sticker from Toys 'R' Us. That's how I figured it out!"


    16. "Once I was old enough to realize whose handwriting was on Santa's gifts, it was pretty obvious. I also caught my dad eating the cookies and drinking the milk I'd left out one year. I think I was about 5? I pretended I didn't know who it was until my parents got tired of it, though, because they were having fun. Now, we just randomly sign gifts with little doodle monsters or say they're from the cats or the dog."


    Paul Giamatti as Santa

    17. "I was reading '10 Lies Parents Tell Their Children' in my mom’s Reader’s Digest when I was about 4 or 5 years old, and then, I pretended I still believed in him for a little while after because I didn’t want to somehow upset them? 😂"


    18. "My mom told me when I turned 11, while in the car to go grocery shopping. She admitted to Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy. It shattered a large chunk of my childhood innocence."


    Billy Bob Thornton as Santa

    19. "I want to say I was in 3rd grade when my best friend told me on the bus ride home from school. I will say, I was starting to get skeptical about his existence when 'Santa’s' handwriting started to look like my mom’s. But my little 9-year-old heart was still devastated when she told me."


    20. "I was absolutely terrified of Santa — even a picture of him would make me cry. So, my parents told me at a very young age that he wasn't real to make me feel better. I had to swear to never tell other kids that he wasn't real. Greatest relief of my life."


    Santa Claus

    21. "I was 7 and scared of the Tooth Fairy, so my mum told me the Tooth Fairy wasn’t real. I then asked her, 'Does this mean Santa's not real as well?' Her face told me the truth. It was a double whammy of trauma 😆."


    22. "I was a difficult in, I set traps to figure out the truth of matters. One year, I believe it was 3rd grade, I set up a trap for Santa. I had begun reading the Harry Potter books in second grade and desperately wanted an invisibility cloak. However, I knew science hadn’t advanced that far. So, to see if Santa was really what everyone (adults) said he was, I asked for an invisibility cloak. Option two was a Nintendo DS in ice blue or pink. Come Christmas morning, there was no invisibility cloak, no magic knit sweater. Just a pink Nintendo DS. I had set the trap, and my hypothesis was correct. Santa was, in fact, my mother and father."


    Kurt Russell as Santa

    23. "My Mormon babysitter."


    24. Finally: "I was 13 years old. At a Pizza Hut. My dad decided it was past due info (it was), and I was in such disbelief I told him not to buy me any presents because Santa would take care of it."


    Well, even if a jolly old man in a red suit isn't breaking and entering once a year, I think we can all agree Santa is very, very real. He exists thanks to our loved ones who did his job (and perhaps STILL do his job) for us every year.

    Note: Submissions are edited for length and/or clarity.