This happened when my family still lived in Baker, OR. The fact that this is a very early memory means that I'm a little fuzzy on the details but I remember the basic gist. I decided that I was going to see Santa Claus. We had made a big to-do of leaving milk and cookies out for the big guy and it never occurred to me that all that fuss would be had over something fictional. Of course Santa was coming. I waited until I was certain that everyone in the house was in bed and I crept downstairs, no doubt anxiously clutching my pink nightgown with the white bunny rabbits all over it, to catch Santa in the act of leaving our Christmas loot beneath our tree. I heard the crinkle of wrapping paper and the tinkling of the little bells and various other ornaments on our tree and, holding my breath, I peeked around the corner...to find my mom and dad placing the gifts instead of Santa. I could have written this off as some sort of fluke except my dad was clearly eating the cookies we had left out and drinking the milk as well. I couldn't believe that my dad would be mean enough to steal cookies from Mr. Claus so I was forced to conclude that it was all a hoax. In the mind of a 4-year old, cookie theft is worse than lying. Just as quietly as I had been going down the stairs, I made my way back up and went to my room to crawl into my bed. We carried on the charade for several years afterwards because I never let on to my parents that I had discovered the truth. It seemed important to them that I believe, so I pretended to.
I had a similar incident with the Tooth Fairy. Actually, I'm not 100% sure if I ever believed in the Tooth Fairy to begin with and any belief I had would have surely evaporated with the Santa myth revealed. Even so, I made sure to place my newly liberated baby tooth under my pillow each time one wriggled free. The Tooth Fairy may not be real, but the money I found the next day certainly was. One night, though, I woke up from the sensation of my pillow being jostled and I blearily opened my eyes enough just in time to catch my dad retreating from my room wearing a multi-colored robe and a floppy straw hat decorated with a rainbow ribbon. That image is better than any tooth fairy. I might not perpetuate the Santa myth, but I'm partial to the idea of dressing like a crazy person to bewilder my sleepy children. I can get behind that tradition.