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00000173-eee8-d5ed-a373-feea21b10000Have your own personal story of giving and how it has affected you, your family, or your community? Share it with us at Maine Public by submitting your story — written or recorded — to rsvp@mainepublic.org.Below are stories coming in this year and previous posted submissions.Check back frequently.Enjoy!

I Can't Wait for my daughter to Stop Believing in Santa Clause

That's right. I said it. I can't wait for my daughter to stop believing in Santa. Ok, so it's true I will be very sad on that day. I be remiss that we hit that milestone of loss of innocence. It will change Christmas morning and the magic that surrounds the season. And of course, I am not sure how one replaces that wonderful tool of "Santa's watching, you better pick up your room (or play nice or any other infraction you can think of).

Last week, 6 yrs old Emma said to me, "I love Christmas because Santa brings kids whatever they want." And I wanted to correct her. I wanted to say "there are more children out there who will be lucky to get a toy on Christmas day than children who will get 'whatever they want.' There are children out there who simply want a good meal, or a parent to return home, or even just a home, and Santa cannot bring that." But I bit my tongue. Because that innocence of believing the world is a wonderful, giving place, will only last so long. Why break it now.

Don't get me wrong. We talk a lot about people who have less than we do (and more than we do!) We bring food to the food pantry. We cull through our clothes and toys to make donations to the local Goodwill. At Christmas, we will buy a toy for Toys for Tots and talk about why. But I will try not to connect that to Santa and his inability to bring those same children "whatever they want."

I want her to see that there is an even greater gift she can give her community. When she sees me stepping up to help anyone at any time, regardless of socio or economic situations, I like to note how important it is to lend a hand. Whether it's picking up a friend from Chorus because her parents can't leave work, babysitting for free so a single Mom can have a night out, or driving our new non-English speaking neighbors to the YMCA, she is growing to understand that these are little things to me, but they make a big difference to the people around us.

Which brings me why I can't wait for the day she no longer believes in Santa. I can't wait to show her the "other side" of Christmas magic. I can't wait to tell her about Christmas' past where her gifts were purchased for her because a wonderful woman who was actually my mother's college roommate sends money every year. I can't wait to tell her of the Christmas in my childhood when we had gifts and Christmas dinner because a neighbor gave my mother a gift card to the grocery store. And I can't wait to take her shopping so we can appear with a bag of gifts on the doorstep of someone we know who will also face those choices. I can't wait for her to stop believing in Santa Clause, so she can know that Santa Clause is inside her.