When I was a teenager, I babysat my two cousins a lot. They did not believe in Santa. Why? Because my aunt did not want to lie to her children. I thought it was the stupidest thing ever. I thought she was ruining their childhood and robbing them of belief and magic. It is funny now that I am in the position of having people say the same about me.
First off, none of this is a judgement on what other parents have decided to do. I think holy people of good faith can disagree on this subject; this is just what Geoff and I know to be best for our family.
St. Nicholas was awesome. He was a tremendous miracle worker whom God used to multiply food and even raise 3 children from the dead. He was a very generous Bishop who did much to take care of the poor. This is a Saint that certainly deserves our veneration. His Feast is Dec 6th and will be observed in our house. Christmas however, is (should be) all about Jesus. I think no one would argue that this holy and sacred day has instead become has all about "Santa Claus" and materialism (another blog in itself).
Going to Mass on Christmas is not enough to thank God for the amazing gift of our newborn Savior. The whole day, our whole lives should be lived as a thank you. Christmas is about giving the gifts of ourselves in return to the God who created us, and gave His life for us. It shouldn't be taken so lightly.
Here is where my problem with the whole Santa thing really comes in though. As Christian parents, nothing is more important than getting our children to Heaven and instilling in them the love of God. From a young age we tell them that God exists, that He made them and loves them. They can't see Him (with the exception of people like St. Gerard), or really KNOW He is there, but they believe because the people they know and love more than anything, their parents, tell them it is so. God gives us gifts like virtues and graces, to help us through life's trials. As they get older, society, pagans, and heretics are constantly on the attack, saying God doesn't exist and that one is wasting his or her life living for God. Not to mention the evil one and his minions are constantnly prowling looking for an opportunity to devour the soul. It is going to take a strong faith to withstand that.
On the flip side, we tell our kids Santa is real. He has cool powers and bring them wonderful gifts like trains and dolls, just the thing they really really wanted. He brings them such joy and all the world is his advocate. No one hates Santa, and goes around telling kids he doesn't exist. He is in songs, movies, and commercials that are everywhere for a good two months of the year and is just so jolly and loveable. He gives them gratification now, not the promise of future joy and eternal happiness (which seems so far away).
Now when our children find out the truth about Santa, which is obviously inevitable, I think it stands to reason that most will begin to question deep down, what else their parents have been lying about. It seems to me that the first seeds of doubt about the existance of God will be born in them. I mean, if Santa isn't real, and all of the world is behind him, what then does that say about the God that so many hate?
Now don't get me wrong, it is part of our faith journey (ownership) to question, but not at such a young age. When it really comes down to it, there is a battle going on between life and death for our souls, and the souls of our precious children. I don't want to give the devil any one-ups. I know our children won't be missing out on anything by not believing in Santa Clause, afterall God IS wonder and awe; but instead they have all of Heaven to gain.
Again, this is just what Geoffrey and I know, after prayerful discernment, is the right thing to do in our family. I'm praying our extended families honor that decision. Also I don't think less of people who choose differently; I think kids can be raised to believe in Santa and turn out perfectly holy adults. I believe however that there are enough battles for their soul, why fight a possible big one at a young age when it is completely avoidable? Sorry Santa Clause, you aren't real and my kids will know the TRUTH.