What I'm about to say may shock you.
My kids don't "believe" in Santa. They never have.
What I mean is: My kids know that Santa is not real. They know that the man at the mall is in costume, just like the caracters at Disney World. They understand that we pretend Santa is real and that he brings us presents, but really it's their parents who do the shopping. I am honest with them when they ask, but I engage them when they pretend.
The other day I was asked if I was "pro-Santa" or "anti-Santa". My answer was neither. Why do I need to take a side? I'm not "anti-Cinderella" or "pro-Micky Mouse". These are just characters in stories that engage my kids imaginations. I don't need to take a stance on an imaginary person.
I have friends that don't "do" Santa. They don't want to take the focus off the real reason of this season. While I completely understand and agree with their desire to focus on Christ, I think we can have both. Because my kids understand that Santa is pretend, he doesn't hold any priority over Jesus. Jesus is the TRUE story of Christmas, Santa is pretend.
Growing up I never believed in Santa. My mom was often told that she ruined Christmas for us. Children who spend hours in a cardboard boxes turning them into castles and spaceships and grocery stores and airplanes and post offices can certainly handle the truth of Santa. As a matter of fact, I would argue that the opposite is true. I would say that for a child who spent years believing in something only to find out it was a lie, has a much harder time enjoying Christmas.
The reality of Christmas doesn't stop my kids. My 8 year old sent a letter to Santa and was beyond excited when she got one in return. All three of them told Santa their Christmas wishes and sat on his lap. They watch Christmas movies and pretend to be elves. There will be gifts from Santa under our tree and they may leave cookies for Daddy to eat. We will read the Christmas story from Matthew on December 25th before opening our gifts and we will spend the weeks ahead talking about this baby that came to save us all. But when December is over and the Santa books get packed away, we will spend the next 11 months focusing our lives around the real miracle of Christmas. Santa's got nothing on Him.
I am often asked how we "do" Christmas. I hope that this explains our intentions and our decisions. If you "do" Christmas differently, good for you! Our decisions are right for our family. Your's have to be right for you.