I've been thinking about the Santa myth a lot. I have three children, 5.5 and under, so it's difficult to avoid finding a position either for or against the make-believe. I took the kids to the mall (pre-December) and there was that familiar stranger yelling to my children to come see him. Creepy. In any other context I'd be calling security. "Can we go over there?" they asked? "Wellllll...no." I would never sit in a strangers lap, so...
I really don't want this to make people who like Santa for the photo-op he provides to feel bad, so I'm going to move along to my more philosophical problem with Santa. My argument against it all is that one TRULY magical thing did happen- God became fully flesh while remaining fully God and won the battle of all battles. That is way more amazing than all the Santa crap! I think that stories that lead us, through magical thinking and fantasy, can be wonderful ways to get us asking questions about eternity, love, power, etc. and hoping for there to be more than this temporal, broken world. I am a huge fan of Lewis, Tolkein, Rowling, and a hundred other fantasy writers, songwriters, and filmmakers. BUT, in the case of Santa, this particular fairy tale distracts us from the true wonder there is to be had in this (and any) season.
I believe that humans want for there to be a supernatural, benevolent force who is an authority on right and wrong. Santa is tame; we can control him, bring him out on our own schedule, and use him to manipulate our children and teach them that material wealth is great reward. He's the perfect tool for Satan to give people something that mock-satisfies their inner longing while distracting them from what is truly hopeful and the ultimate magic. Like eating a bag of chips in the grocery store when there are more wholesome, beneficial, healthy choices all around. (Now, don't get me wrong: I love potato chips)
People think I'm a humbug for eschewing Santa (and that stupid elf). It's much worse than that- I actually believe, as in base my life choices on and love Jesus- you know, that other Christmas character. I'm not some stiff who doesn't enjoy fairy-take magic and holiday tradition. I am rather an intense, passionate, charismatic believer in the true Supernatural.
Now, if you don't believe in God or anything magical at all, go right ahead with Santa, I guess (though why you can put your kids on his lap...). He's just a fun story. It does, however, boggle my mind a bit when Christians get really into Santa. How are children supposed to learn the difference between the true magic of God (Jesus' life and miracles, OT miracles, power through the Holy Spirit) and the pretend magic of Santa? Of course, children are not fools (all the time), and I am sure they will figure it all out when they're mature. Maybe I just have a weaker conscience while others are able to engage the Santa lore without it bothering them so much. It bothers me, though. Much. There just is so little time to convey what is true- to my own heart and to my children. I just flat don't have the brain space to put up with Santa and his shelf-dwelling spies. I am struggling every day to see a little but more of the REAL magic of Christmas- Christ in flesh who reigns from Heaven working out his plans, which hard to see but are there, and who will return to install peace on earth!!!
Just something to think about before swimming right along with our cultural current. There are plenty of other ways to engage our culture during Advent.
Meanwhile, my children, sensing my frustration with Santa, try to antagonize me regularly with claims that he his real. See? My kids still get to enjoy the fun of (harassing and teasing their mother with the thought of) Santa!
Lastly, I'm sorry if my kids break it to your kids that Santa is BS (though they won't use that language!). Alternately, if you'd like to dispell Santa but are unsure as to how to do it- send them for a play-date! It'll be like the chicken pox parties of our youth!