I found myself this holiday season suddenly remembering all the way back to my fifth Christmas when I awoke to find a magic set that Santa Claus had left for me (technically it is only the second Christmas from which I actually have memories.)
One of the tricks the set portended to teach was a vanishing hanky trick. When I searched through the secret instruction booklet to find the pictorial explanation (I couldn't read very well yet, so I relied mainly on pictures) it referred me to this odd-looking 18" piece of elastic that had a tiny safety pin tied to it on one end and this black plastic egg-shaped thing with a hole in it on the other end. Ready to witness some real magic, I dutifully stuffed the world's stiffest silk (included) into the hole in the egg. And waited. And waited. And waited. Nothing. Try as I might, I could still see the garish green hanky substitute in there. True, it was all crumpled up, but I could still see it. To ape the line from another thread, I felt as hosed as any five year-old could feel: this egg-thing wasn't about to cause anything to disappear.
So I called dad. He dutifully took the egg and the booklet into the other room saying "Let me see if I can fix this for you. Be back in a little bit." Fifteen minutes later he returned without the egg contraption. "Can I see that hanky?" I handed it to him. "I don't know about that thing you gave me," he said stuffing the verdant vanish-defier into his closed fist, "but if I was going to make that green hanky disappear I'd just do this!" He clapped his hands together right under my nose. The hanky was GONE.
It must have been a full ten seconds before I spoke, in which time I decided I could confidently ditch the magic set since my dad is secretly a great wizard who has only decided today - now that I was old enough - to reveal himself to me. It must have been a full ten more minutes before I could grasp how something kept totally out of sight enabled him to do this, especially when he showed me how he was "hooked up" to the evil black plastic egg dream spoiler from hell. Even though all of the other items in the magic set were built around some form of deception, I was still crestfallen to discover that the ability to make something disappear was not real but just another one of them.
Oh well. At least I still had Santa Claus. (Loss of my Santa innocence would not occur for another two Christmases.)