It's the most wonderful time of the yearCall me gullible or naive, but I believed that Santa Claus existed right up until I was 12 years old.

Maybe it was because my parents did such a good job of keeping up pretenses. From the time I knew how to write, they would casually remark about three weeks before Christmas that I should probably get started on writing my letter to Santa Claus so he could “make” my present in time.

I remember how my younger brother and I would pore over the Toys ‘R’ Us catalogue, deciding which toy we liked best. It was the biggest decision we made every year, and we regarded it with the staidness with which I imagine Al Gore regards global warming.

When the toy was decided upon, we would then proceed to write and decorate our letter to Santa. I would help my brother write his letter before he knew how to write and spell, and he would decide on the stickers and crayon colours that went into making sure our letters stood out from the millions Santa would be receiving. It was a team effort, this whole toy business.

Once we were satisfied with our requests, we would hand the letter over to our parents so they could mail it to Santa in the North Pole. The days leading up to Christmas would be spent in fervent anticipation, usually accompanied by us asking our grandparents: “How many more days to Christmas?” about 65 times a day.

And when Christmas Eve finally rolled around we would count down the hours to mass because Santa Claus would only deliver our gifts when no one was home. Our parents would make a big show of leaving a tiny crack in the window so Santa could get in by shrinking himself, and in all our excitement, we never noticed how as we were piling into the car, someone would always happen to forget something and have to run back into the house to get it.

After miraculously sitting through a two-hour mass and the ride home without hyperventilating, we would burst through the door to find the very presents we asked for under the Christmas tree. “Thank you, Santa! Thankyouthankyouthankyou!”, we would screech as we ran amok in glee around the house.

When my dad sat my brother and I down one day to tell us that he had been Santa Claus all these years, we didn’t yell, scream or make a scene (as I’m sure he expected us to). We just sat confused, not knowing whether to calmly accept the truth or resist it, as teardrops streamed down our faces.

Looking back, I’m not sure how I managed to keep such an unshakable belief in Santa for more than a decade. Maybe it was the deep trust we placed in our parents, or maybe it was because we really wanted to believe that Christmas truly was magical, and not a just commercial holiday.

Whatever it was, it made me love and appreciate my parents more than ever, knowing that they were willing to put in all that time, effort and pretending into making Christmas something special for us. They say Christmas is the season of giving, and I think that more than toys, my parents gave us an abundance of hope and love.

I’ve sometimes wondered if I would do the whole Santa Claus charade for my kids in future, because I would have to come clean and disappoint them some day. But if it means that it will show them that some things really are magical – not in the way their toys were made and delivered but in the joy they can bring to others – then I am all for donning a Santa suit and beard.