I grew up on a cattle ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. After spending nearly 20 years working as a copywriter in advertising, my first book, Confessions of a Slacker Mom, came out in spring of 2004 and made the San Francisco Chronicle's best-seller list. My second book, Confessions of a Slacker Wife, was released in spring of 2005.

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Santa, I Hope This Letter Won’t Come as a Shock

Dear Santa,

I’ve really enjoyed the past ten years that we’ve been together. We’ve had some fun times. And I would never want to hurt your feelings, but I think the best way to deal with my own feelings is to be completely honest with you. So I’m sorry, Santa, but I’m breaking up with you.

Please don’t think this has anything to do with your weight, or your facial hair, or even the long-distance thing. Because I’m totally fine with all of that. It’s what makes you, you. But this is not really even about you. It’s not even about me. It’s about my children.

As you know, my two kids are ten and eight (nine in January). To them, Christmas has always been all about getting the most fantastic new toy they can think of, courtesy of Santa. My husband and I haven’t minded you getting credit for the many hours we’ve spent at Toys R Us, honestly, and we appreciate all the happiness the idea of you has brought our children over the years. But I think they’re both ready to leave this phase of childhood behind.

I realize this might seem sudden, but the truth is I contemplated having this conversation a year ago, so as of Christmas 2007 you were basically comin’ to town on borrowed time. I knew even back then that Belle and Joe were at an age when they’d hear the real story from their friends, and I didn’t want them to think everyone but their parents was honest with them. In fact I have reason to believe that at least one of our kids already knows you’re just a friendly fib.

This year, however, I have further incentive to verify that for both of them. Demand at the food banks in our city is at an all-time high. The Sub-for-Santa program (which actually is real) says they’re being forced to turn away applicants. Homeless shelters, including those with children, are over capacity. More layoffs are expected from many companies before the end of the year.

These things are not your fault, I know that. But I think Belle and Joe are old enough to ask why some kids in our own community don’t have enough food or clothing, much less Christmas presents. I think they’re old enough to wonder why there is such a thing as Sub-for-Santa. And I think the only logical answer is the one I’ve already outlined above, having to do with your status as made-up. I ’d like to tell Belle and Joe that while lots of our neighbors need help, and although no one will be flying in on a sleigh to rescue them, we can make a small difference. So instead of writing letters to you with their own wish lists, we’ll be pooling our resources and heading for the Salvation Army.

I don’t mean to say it’s the end of gift-giving in our family, and I don’t mean to sound like a killjoy. I’m pretty sure Belle and Joe will find some fun in the new scheme. And with any luck, next year our economy will be back on track and fewer families will be in dire straits.

In the meantime, I hope this change in our relationship won’t make you feel anything less than jolly, because it’s nothing you’ve done. It was inevitable, really; we both knew this day would come. And don’t worry, Santa, I know there’s someone else out there who’s right for you. Lots of people, actually. People with younger kids. And I know how fun you can be so rest assured I won’t breathe a word to any of them.

Besides, I’m sure we’ll meet again someday. Probably in about 15 or 20 years, when I have grandchildren.

Sincerely yours,

Belle and Joe’s Mom

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