They're everywhere. Santa snacks. Santa lights. Santa greeting cards. Santa sitting in every mall waiting for you to sit on him. And with all this Santa-ing comes the question: Is he real to you? To your kids? Have you decided, or passively let media and your kids' classmates decide for you? Honestly, what you do with your family is probably already awesome. This post is just about how I address this in mine.
This was a bit of mild contention with my husband and I before our son was born, and for a long time I figured it was an either-or choice. Now that the boy is almost 3, and remembering references like Santa and angels and baby Jesus, it's time to start helping him shape his Santaview, like his worldview.
For instance, I'm starting to tell him that we exchange presents at Christmas to honor Jesus' birth, much like the wise men brought presents to Jesus when he was born. I don't frame it like "you'll get presents" because it's not about getting. It's about giving and honoring as celebration. The more we emphasize the gift of Christ, the less we focus on gifts in general. Besides, my son's current units of currency (bribery) are mints and sugar-free gum, and I'll milk that as long as I can.
While I can completely bypass the Elf on the Shelf thing (which I still see as a trend for some reason), Santa is too deeply entrenched in American culture to ignore. I can tell my son that Santa is a real person who used to give presents to needy children, and the ones he sees in the mall are pretending to be Santa. Ergo, Santa is pretend. He won't get presents from Santa, though, not until he understands what our family has done with this tradition (albeit unofficially): a present from "Santa" means it's something special from someone secret. And he doesn't even have to write a letter to Santa to get it.
Just don't ask me where the Tooth Fairy or Easter Bunny come from. One ficticious battle at a time.