To this day, Dacey said there is a part of him that "still believes," at least in the messages of love and giving.
"I suppose I stopped believing in a living, breathing jolly-old-elf over a number of middle-school years, but have never stopped believing in Santa," he said. "I hope the silver sleigh bell would still ring for me."
Emily Charlton is still miffed that Mom spilled the beans.
"It was honestly the first time I can remember feeling heartbreak," she said. "I don't think it was just about the belief in Santa, but about the belief in magic and wonder and make believe, and everything that makes your childhood so great," she said.
But one parent -- now a grandmother who dresses up each year pretending to be an elf -- defended herself for bringing a dose of reality to her household when she was raising a family.
She was outraged when her 6-year-old son was sent to the principal's office for telling his first-grade class there was no Santa Claus.
"Man, was I mad about that," said Martha Chabinsky, a 59-year-old yoga teacher from Amherst, N.H. "Punishing a kid for telling the truth."