This may be tough for you to hear, Billy—but there is no Santa Claus. I should clarify: There was a Santa Claus, and he brought joy to all the children in the world who believed in him, but last Christmas Eve he was murdered during an attempted sleigh-jacking.

You’re old enough for the whole truth: Santa didn’t die immediately. Even though the second bullet pierced his lung, it missed his belly that shook when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly, and the coroner believes he could have pulled through if the gunshots hadn’t spooked his reindeer, who trampled him to death. Rudolf’s nose wasn’t the only thing disturbingly red that night.

Tragically, when Blitzen tried to shield Santa’s body from the other reindeer’s hooves, he broke a leg and had to be put down.

And this is the toughest part, so I hope you’re sitting down: It was all your fault. You just had to have that Nerf gun.

See, Santa couldn’t read the handwriting on the letter you sent him (I told you to work on your penmanship, but you were too busy playing Xbox). He had already delivered toys to all the children in the world, and when he went to “check his list twice,” he saw, illegibly scrawled, NERF N-STRIKE MAVERICK. And it was while he was heading back into the workshop, exhausted from a night of delivering presents to ungrateful kids, that his assailant crept into the backseat of his sleigh to silently wait.

If only you had asked for a real gun, Santa might have been able to defend himself. Even a Red Ryder air rifle could have at least put his assailant’s eye out. I guess this is a less heartwarming irony than O. Henry’s “Gift of the Magi.”

Incidentally, when I said earlier “I hope you’re sitting down,” I meant on the floor. You don’t deserve a chair, because you killed Santa with your greediness.

Please stop crying. Every time a child cries, an angel get its wings ripped off.

So tonight, while you don’t-cry yourself to sleep, just remember: They still haven’t caught the murderer. An hour before this heinous crime took place, another sleigh was robbed, and witnesses described that assailant as having, and I quote the police report, “a heart two sizes too small.”

Don’t tell the other kids about what happened to Santa. Number one, it was all your fault, remember? And if they find out that you’re the reason they’re not getting a gift next year, the guilt you’re feeling right now will be the least of your problems. Number two, it could get back to the police and they’ll want to bring you in for questioning. You’re under 18, but you could still be tried as an accessory and get sent to juvie. And you don’t want to know what happens in there to kids who still believe in Santa.

Anyway, don’t be upset. After all, the true meaning of Christmas is celebrating the birth of Jesus!

I’ll tell you what wound up happening to him when you’re older.

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Frank Lesser’s new book, Sad Monsters: Growling on the Outside, Crying on the Inside, is available at your local bookseller.