I have put my foot in my mouth on more than one occasion, but this time, I basically just ate both my feet.
My family and my friend's family were out to lunch, and my friends' eight and ten year old sisters were there. Somehow we got onto the topic of Christmas, and I decided to begin a sentence with "before I knew Santa Claus wasn't real...". Naturally, incredibly awkward silence ensued. I feel sooooooooooo bad. The littles didn't burst into tears or anything (thank god), but I know they heard me, and the eight year old looked very confused. Is there any way I can fix this? How do I get over this incredibly guilty feeling I have? I am very close to these little girls, and I just feel absolutely terrible!
Oh, and you should. Not just because you're an evil, heartless wormperson who shattered the tender psyches of two innocent children—seriously, Sparkler, you are worse than Satan, George W. Bush, and the Unabomber combined—but also, because Santa Claus is real. And he's on his way to your house right now. And he's very, very angry.
...Just kidding. (But wouldn't that be a great premise for a story? 'Scuse me while I go write an outline for my next book, titled His Suit Was Red With Blood: Santa's Vengeance.)
And as for how to make it right, this is a lovely little opportunity for everyone involved to flex their Decent Human Being muscles: you'll apologize, they'll forgive, and everyone comes away with that warm, fuzzy feeling of having done the right thing. Because you needn't beat yourself up about this, darling. After all, your foot-in-mouth moment wasn't malicious; you just weren't thinking. It happens. And even if you ushered in their unbelief ahead of schedule, it couldn't have been by much: at eight and ten, these kids are ripe for no longer buying into the Santa thing, anyway. (Honestly, ten is kind of the outside limit; beyond that, believing in Santa Claus is more of a liability than anything else. When everyone else in their class has already wised up, kids who persist with the Santa myth just end up getting mercilessly teased for their credulity.)
So, phone your friend's parents, take a deep breath, and just tell them what you told me: that you feel really terrible for spilling the Santa beans, and you hope they can forgive your gaff.
And in all likelihood, they already have. But no doubt they'll appreciate your maturity in approaching them to apologize—and you'll appreciate the chance to get in some necessary practice in the exquisite art of owning up to your mistakes.
Oh, and maybe get them something nice for Christmas.
Have you ever accidentally put your foot in it? Share your embarrassments in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.