"Santa isn't real, it's your parents who buy you Christmas presents!" This came from my best friend's sister the summer before I turned 8 in the late 1970s. I thought she was being spiteful because we had cracked an egg over her head (it was hollow...the egg, not her head) which made her angry so she decided to spill the beans.
Telling a firm Santa believer that the benevolent jolly man in the red suit does not exist is the worst thing one could possibly do, at least it was to this Generation Xer at the time. I mean, we spent our youth during the Cold War, thinking we were going to be nuked at any second, so belief in something magical was more than a respite from harsh reality, it was a necessary tool in our arsenal of coping skills.
When I went home crying to my mother after hearing the shocking news about Saint Nick, she explained that Santa didn't really exist, and my twin sister and I shouldn't tell our younger brother yet, but it was still ok to believe in Santa if we wanted. Awesome, that is all I needed to hear. I could, if I so choose, still believe. I chose to believe.
That summer we moved and because we were upset over the move, we felt we were going to be "compensated" with better Christmas gifts that year. My sister and I wanted more than anything to be the proud owners of the humongous Barbie Star Traveler Van that Christmas. Even though the awful truth of Santa's "non"-existence had settled in, I still wanted to believe.
The problem: I obsessed (truly, obsessed, worried, stressed, puked, etc.) about Santa not being able to find us since we had moved, and someone else would get our Barbie van! I was anxious and crying that Christmas Eve at my grandparent's house and couldn't enjoy myself, until my aunt Marsha asked me what was wrong and I told her my fear of Santa not finding us.
Being the awesome aunt that she was (still is), she told me we would write a note to Santa, and set it on top of the flames in the fireplace, the heat from the flames would lift it to the sky and Santa would find us. What a topnotch plan, or so I thought.
Aunt Marsha couldn't find any writing paper, but she found a tissue. She wrote a beautiful note, giving Santa our new address. I was so excited I probably peed my pants. We took the note to the fireplace, she carefully set it atop the flames to be carried to the sky, but instead that piece of light-weight tissue disintegrated before my very eyes. OH MY GOD! NO! Doomed.
I'll skip the melodramatic episode that followed, because the story has a happy ending. My sister and I did get our Barbie Star Traveler van. It was waiting for us at home that night. Santa had seen Aunt Marsha's tissue note after all. The part that makes me smile is that I've moved several times over the last 20 years, but you know what? That mythical magical man in the red coat and funny hat always manages to find me. I'm glad I haven't stopped believing.
Check out the original Mattel 1979 commercial for the Barbie Star Traveller!