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I’m 46 and I Still Believe in Santa

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Forty years ago tomorrow night I saw Santa. I didn’t see him at the mall or in a department store or ringing a bell on the street. I saw him in our living room at 4am. He wasn’t my dad in a suit or an inflatable dummy or a photograph, he was the embodiment of Christmas made visible. He filled the room, was semi-transparent, more spirit than flesh and didn’t notice a small boy crouching on the stairs and watching him between the newel posts. I know he was real precisely because he was so unnatural. You can’t see through your father in a Santa suit and no mundane human can fill a whole room.

This encounter with Santa is one of my most vivid memories from my childhood. It’s the only genuine supernatural experience I’ve ever had and I have no reason to believe it was anything but real. I wasn’t given to hallucinations as a child and haven’t had a history of mental illness in the years since then. I don’t think it was a holy vision. It certainly didn’t cause me to become particularly religious. It’s just this one, inexplicable incident when I glimpsed something beyond our normal reality.

I bore my children with the story every year, and I think my older daughter finds the whole concept somewhat embarassing. I guess it’s not cool to have a father who still believes in Santa. I think that in most ways I live a pretty rational life, but I can’t shake the reality of what I saw all those years ago. I wait up late every Christmas Eve – ostensibly filling stockings – hoping I might get lucky and see Santa again, though lately I have this morbid fear that if I see him again he’ll be the spirit of death come to take me away.

You can keep believing in Santa too, if you believe in the vision which I saw. Not a just someone who climbed down a chimney in a red suit, but something supernatural, intangible and spiritual. To me he was a momentous presence, not just some guy bringing presents. He infused the holiday with warmth and the spirit of giving, appearing not just in our living room, but far larger than those walls and present in myriad homes across the world at the same moment, uniting us all in one day of sharing and selflessness.

I still believe in Santa today as completely as I did when I first saw him all those years ago. He is real and he is out there in the world doing his good works just as much as he is within every one of us when we put the needs of others first in our hearts not just on Christmas but throughout the year.


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About Dave Nalle

Dave Nalle is Executive Director of the Texas Liberty Foundation, Chairman of the Center for Foreign and Defense Policy, South Central Regional Director for the Republican Liberty Caucus and an advisory board member at the Coalition to Reduce Spending. He was Texas State Director for the Gary Johnson Presidential campaign, an adviser to the Ted Cruz senatorial campaign, Communications Director for the Travis County Republican Party and National Chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus. He has also consulted on many political campaigns, specializing in messaging. Before focusing on political activism, he owned or was a partner in several businesses in the publishing industry and taught college-level history for 20 years.
  • Interesting Dave, thanks for sharing. Did you see him/or any similar phenomenon again?

  • It’s the only experience of this sort I’ve ever had. My teen daughter is convinced that I was asleep and dreaming the whole experience, but I’m still convinced it was real. I wonder if I’m alone or if others have had similar experiences.


  • That is an interesting story. I personally don’t believe in Santa but I respect you for doing so past the age of ten. The fact that you’ve made it past 40 still beleiving is remarkable. Good luck on catching Santa again tomorrow night. Oh, by the way, I have an upcoming satirical peice about Santa. I hope it doesn’t offend you. It’s not serious, just supposed to be funny. It should be published in a few hours.

  • Interesting Santa picture on your post. What is the source?

  • I said I believe in Santa. I didn’t say I worshipped him as a god or anything. I actually have a bit more faith in Santa than I do in god, but I’m still pretty much an open-minded atheist.


  • gonzo marx

    Mr Nalle sez…
    *I wonder if I’m alone or if others have had similar experiences.*

    yes..Ebeneezer Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Present

    no wonder yer waiting for the Third One


  • Scott Butki

    Great post, Dave.

  • I saw Santa once too, Dave. It was late on Christmas Eve and everyone was upstairs, and I only ran down because I forgot my Bugs Bunny (at 5 he was preferred over a Teddy Bear). I swear to this day I saw him, swinging his legs out our window (we didn’t have a fireplace). He wasn’t so much a specter; he seemed real. I stood in shock as he slipped out and shut the window behind him.

    I wanted to say something but he was gone so quickly. The reason I think he was real was because the room was freezing cold (from the window being opened). I ran to the window and saw nothing and heard nothing (no bells, no reindeer’s hoves, nothing). He was just gone. I still believe I saw him even if no one else ever believed me.

    Ho, ho, ho!

  • Practically, you probably experienced wish-projection, your mind created what you strongly believed ought to exist

    Economically, you know of course someone had to pay for presents, and even a Santa on minimum wage would not tolerate being as over-worked as the guy probably is each year

  • Victor, in many ways your experience is even more disturbing than mine, because it’s so much more believable and non-supernatural in character. Interesting.

    And Aaman, I’m not convinced that the Santa I saw was actually leaving any presents. I’ve always thought he was merely ‘blessing’ or sort of infusing the presents with Christmas spirit.


  • Oh, and I found the Santa image on the web, but I believe it’s from a turn-of-the-century issue of Vanity Fair magazine.


  • It’s certainly easier and more pleasant to believe in Santa Claus than in Intelligent Design.


  • mt

    “I wasn’t given to hallucinations as a child and haven’t had a history of mental illness in the years since then.”

    Ho ho ho, Dave.

  • Not diagnosed anyway, MT.


  • brady

    I saw Satan in a chimney once and lit his ass on fire (which he enjoyed). The next time I saw Satan’s Claws I was eating Stone Crab claws at Truluck’s with my aunt Mabel. I mistook Satan for my crab and dipped him into honey mustard sauce. Mmm, good Satan’s Claws.

  • Cindy

    I love Dave! πŸ™‚

  • Richard

    Hello everyone i’m 20 years old, i never believe in santa never, but at the age of 8 i saw him, he was on the sky crossing my house, this happend in my country El Salvador. I quicly called my friend and he saw it too and we also called our other friend but he didn’t see him he desappeared in front of our eyes, we didn’t see him wearing red color we saw him in his sleigh running in the sky, But the strange thing is that after 10 years when i ask the guy who saw it too, he says that he doesn’t remember and i remember very clear, i don’t believe in him and i never did but the real truth is that i saw him or his shade and it was a full moon that day.

  • Sara

    I’m 13 and I still believe. I have a story like Dave, actually, but none of my friends believe me at all.
    When I was seven, on chirstmas eve, I was sleeping in between my parents on their bed (I usually did this on Christmas eve) and I swear (at around four AM) a bright light woke me and I saw it coming from the stairs. My parents were asleep, and I went to the staircase. I heard the sound of rubber boots on the wood floors.
    Burglar? No, the alarm was set. The light was so beautiful! I went back to bed happily, knowing what I saw and heard was real.
    Am I wrong to not believe what I really saw? I was wide awake, I swear it. Definately no dream, I never remember my dreams, anyway. Besides, what child really sleeps on Christmas eve?
    I really just need an answer. I want to know if I’m right and Santa is really real.

  • Tory

    I’m a teenager, and I believe, When I was little, about 4 I think, my brother and I heard Santa Clause on the roof, people I’ve told usually say it was just my parents, but our roof is nearly impossible to get onto, and our parents would never go through such lengths. My brother no longer believes, but I will always believe in Santa.

  • dan

    im 17 and i have never seen or herd santa but i just have a gut feeling that tells me that he is real

  • Caiin

    You guys are sooo way over your heads hahahaha i mean seriously come on! Christmas was about JESUS douchebags until someone came up with this idea that sum fat guy gave out presents, commercialized it and now your brains have “convinced” You into seeing santa! this is stupid eveything he does has to do with “magic” yet people would disregard god or life on other planets and believe in magic… Wow humns amaze me at times ! YOU HaVE FORGOTTEN THE TRUE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS HERE fools -_-

  • Lauren

    i have to agree with dan i mean i am 32 and still believe in santa. My Parents aren’t up when santa Comes To My So Obviously Santa Has My Presents on His Sleigh With him Coming From The North Pole. Even though I I Never Seen Him But I Hear Him Every Christmas Eve When he Lands on my Trailer Roof. and he comes down my chimney but it anyone has seen then m&m’s Comercial thats your proof right there. so there is a santa. but if anyone saw the parade there he was there too. so yes there is a santa Dan! I Had my 3 cousins outside with me at my aunts lastnight and told them do u see that blinking light and they said yeah thats santa checking on you guys. but they believe. but my cousin timmy whose 6 said he saw santa on christmas eve every year.

  • Beth

    I’m currently 14, and I still and always will believe in Santa. When I was about 7 years old, I got up in the middle of the night around 2 oclock to go to the bathroom. My little sister’s bedroom door was open, and she was fast asleep. My parents door was also open, and they were both in their beds sleeping (and snoring) as well. Coming from downstairs, I heard the rustling of wrapping paper as if someone was wrapping gifts. It was not air blowing against it. It was too loud for that. It was Santa wrapping presents. My sister claims to have heard the crunching of cookies the same night. The following year, we got a small maltese dog. When she was a puppy, we kept her in a cage in the kitchen. Every Christmas Eve night she would bark. There is no possible way for her to have gotten out of her cage, and she obviously would have been able to smell if it was my dad, mom, sister, or me downstairs. She was barking at Santa, I am convinced. This happened every year until she began sleeping in my parents room. Sometimes she still growls in the night on Christmas Eve. I also have a friend who is 16 who heard footsteps on her roof one year (I heard them one year as well, and saw a strange light far off in the distance another year), and also found carrots on her roof. No parents would go to the extent of biting dozens of carrots and tossing them up on the roof. Her mom also told her and her siblings that she got coal one year and showed them one of the actual pieces. My entire family believes in Santa Claus. There have been years when we didn’t have a lot of money and I still got TONS of presents from Santa. I am and always will be a firm believer, no matter what my friends say:)

  • Santa Claus

    Did you write all those other comments, Dave? It seems interesting to me that they all think it’s INTERESTING, Dave… MERRY CHRISTMAS! πŸ™‚

  • Santa Claus

    …Oh, and you DIDN’T SEE ME!

  • Susan

    I’m 14 and believe in Santa. I don’t have any evidence to prove that he’s real and I’ve never seen or heard him before but I just have this feeling that he’s real. I know most people don’t believe in him and that’s their own choice but what’s the harm in beliveing?

  • Hannah

    Dude! You are so awesome! How did you ever believe for so long??? I still believe. If you don’t believe on this comment page, then just leave, because this is cool.

  • Hannah

    And I just wanted to say to all of you non-believers: You need to just hush yo mouth because Santa Claus is REAL!!!! Just listen to all of these stories!! It is SO amazing!! And my parents would NOT get up at 3 or 4 in the morning just to put presents out. They are usually passed out and don’t wake up ’til Christmas morning! You just have to believe! Actually, if you don’t, he still is real. Also, if Santa is real (which he is), then that means Elf on the Shelves and Elf Magic are real too! πŸ˜€

  • Hannah

    Also Dave, I want to thank you SOOOO much! I admit: I have been having TONS of trouble believing in Santa Claus. I wanted to believe SO bad and so much more. When I saw this, I was calling my mom and friend telling them “You need to look at this!!”. Thank you SO much! This made me believe SO much more!! May God bless you (and of course Santa!)! Thank you again, and Merry Christmas!!!!!! πŸ˜€ (Also, sorry for posting SO many comments. I was just excited! :D)

  • soccer c

    i am 12 and i still believe. I remember one year i was like 8 and my sister was like 13 and she said she felt a man with a beard kiss her. I don’t think my dads stubble counts as a beard. My mom one year also said she heard reindeer on the roof. Every Christmas i only sleep like an hour. I believe that is the time Santa comes. Last year I also got a bike for Christmas. The bike couldn’t be in the attic because the door to my attic is in my room and you wouldn’t be able to fit even a bike wheel in the door and the door is on the ceiling. I don’t know where else they could have kept it. Not in the garage because i always go i there. Definitely not in there room. So yes I do believe.

  • newzbug

    Thank you so much for saying this out loud. I tell very few people these days usually because I hear giggles and people giving me funny looks. Even the kids I tell, like to argue with me about “mom says he doesn’t exist”. So I just tell them everyone believes in different things. And I just happen to be one who believes. I keep my story pretty much a secret. But my faith/belief in him has been unwavering ever since I was 8 years old.

  • John

    Not to hate or anything, but it was probably just a vivid dream. The reason most people stop believing in Santa is because they have strong evidence against, and no evidence for.