With Christmas approaching, it’s only normal to find articles such as “How not to ruin the magic of Christmas for your child” randomly on social media. So, today I bring you a story. The story of how I discovered that Santa Claus wasn’t real. Spoiler alert: I wish that article was written in Portuguese and in the ’90s and that somehow my family had read it.

My family is very religious and very traditionalist, Christmas was a time for everyone to get together and for children (my cousin Jess and I) to enjoy the coming of Santa Claus and their gifts. Our tradition went as following: at midnight, my cousin George was to dress in a Santa costume, come to the house and distribute the gifts. It was a very exciting thing to see the clock approaching midnight, listening to the bell of Santa echoing in the building, while he came up the stairs. We then sat on the floor while Santa Claus distributed the gifts to everyone.

Eventually, Jess and I started growing up. We started to suspect that Santa could possibly be fake. I’m sure we asked our parents about it but I don’t remember their answers. They probably deflected the question. But I had a plan: I suspected that it was my cousin George who was dressing up as Santa, so we should keep an eye on him and see if he would get dressed as Santa or if he was to disappear when Santa came.

Some days after coming up with the plan, Jess came to me and said that Santa had to be real because she saw Rita talking to Santa through the keyhole. Rita was the spouse of George. Looking back at that moment, I realize that Jess probably asked her parents or George about Santa. So my family knew that we were trying to figure out the big mystery of Christmas.

Well, Christmas time came, but that night, contrary to the other nights, there was no Santa. Instead, there were two letters sent from Santa (or Jesus, I don’t remember), one for Jess and one for me. We were told we had to read those letters in front of the entire family.

And so it was, I stood in front of the television, with 15 or 16 people looking at me, and read out loud the letter, which contained a story of Jesus Christ and how Christmas came to be. Then, George said that due to our disbelief, Santa would not come ever again to our house and that we should be ashamed for doing that. Everyone had this reprehensible look on their faces.

I remember feeling quite down for the rest of the night, feeling like Christmas was ruined, while the adults continued their talk at the table, happy with their wine.