When I was 6 or so years old, I remember waking up one Christmas Eve night around midnight and hearing jingling bells coming from somewhere. I was certain had to be Santa Claus.
For years, I held on to that memory as tightly as I could, holding it aloft as proof that Santa Claus was real, because I heard the bells on his sleigh. Even as kids at school told me he wasn’t real, even as other doubts began to creep in to my mind, I fought to hold on to my faith.
Like others in this thread, though, you reach a certain age where you start trying to peek at your Christmas presents, and by then the jig is up. Did Santa Claus get me Donkey Kong Country on the SNES? No. I saw it under my Mom’s bed while she was at work.
The ultimate letdown finally came as we were going through Christmas decorations one year and buried under old boxes of ornaments, I found big, heavy jingling bells on a leather string.
In spite of all this, my Mom always makes sure there’s at least one present under the tree signed “Santa Claus” even though I am 34. And honestly, I kind of like that.