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How do I tell Kids Santa Claus Doesn't Exist?

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Guest blogger Elizabeth Lindell: Every Christmas Eve for the past 11 years, my daughter has baked cookies for Santa. Many families can relate to this sweet tradition and savor the wonder and excitement our children's faces hold as they set out that plate before bedtime. This year, our tradition will be evolving.

When we become parents, we carry forth some traditions from generations before, weeding out ones that don't fit with our current lives and beliefs and adding new ones that do. Telling our child that a man in a red suit would come down our chimney every year bringing her gifts was not one my husband wanted to continue. To him, it was a lie, plain and simple. To me, it wasn't that black and white. It was just a part of childhood that we didn't need to analyze. But I should have -- and from my daughter's very first Christmas.

My daughter trusted me when I said I would never lie to her, so at age 11, she still believed in Santa with her whole heart. Why wouldn't she? I had been creating the illusion her entire life: signing packages to her from him in disguised handwriting; baking those cookies with her; allowing her to write notes for him to find on Christmas Eve; thanking him for all that he does; even responding to her, as him, thanking her for being such a kind and generous person all year long.

Over the past two years, she has had enormous emotional and personal growth. She discusses politics, our environment, animal rights, religion, equality and meteors that have potential to end the world. In my heart, I knew it didn't make sense for her to have such intelligent conversations at home and school while defending her belief in Santa to her equally intelligent peers.

When I told her, she cried for an hour. She said to us, "You've been lying to me for 11 years? I hear reindeer on the roof every year!" My heart was breaking. I went into a fast spiral, telling her how this Christmas was going to be the most special because she could experience what it feels like to be Santa for someone the way we had been for her so many years. We talked about picking up treats and a sweater for a dog that was recently rescued by a friend and what she could choose for the man we see sitting under the freeway every day on our way home from school.

My husband, though, had the words that turned it around and brought a smile to her face. "You're welcome for all of the presents," he said.

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