I love talking to young parents, hearing their issues, and feeling a little superior that I've been through it all and survived. I'm honored when they ask my advice on anything, and most recently the Santa question came up. "We don't know what we want to do about the Santa thing," one said. "We don't want to lie to our kids, but do we deprive them of the fun of Santa?" Good question. I remember that issue as a parent, 37 and 38 years ago. (Parents do have the first two Christmases to decide.) Then suddenly our son Josh was caught up in the season, with people asking him what he wanted from Santa and all the pictures and books and stories and then we didn't actually decide. We just went with it.
When our daughter Kelsey was five, she asked her dad directly, "Tell me the truth. Is there really a Santa or is it you and Mom?"
Being a painfully honest (painful to others, at times) person, Steve said, "Your mother and I put out the toys."
She was crushed. She cried and stormed around and acted as though her world had ended. And a part of her world of make-believe had, indeed, met a sudden death.
In a Wall Street Journal article, Tony Woodlief gives the best explanation I've ever heard for a Christian parent to support belief in Santa. He titles it "OK, Virginia, There's no Santa Claus. There Is God." It's a worthwhile read for parents of young children and for parents whose children are grown and they are wondering if they did the right thing about Santa. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122963990662019887.html
Yesterday's excellent post by Jon Acuff on the same topic, though from his usual comedic perspective, is at http://stuffchristianslike.net/2010/12/the-santa-problem/#more-4154 . One point that I really like is that you never hear anyone say they don't believe in God because Santa wasn't real. As to the "I don't want to lie to my kids" angle, he says "we also have to be careful that we don’t miss out on the word 'pretend.'” I agree.
I am grateful that God gave us imagination and creativity from which can pour droplets of delight for young and old. Santa Claus is part of that--and in no way takes away from honoring the Christ Child at this time of year. We have many avenues for enjoying and celebrating, and Santa Claus is one that adds to the fun for us all.