This is the first year that my daughter is looking forward to going to see Santa. Before she was quite wary of the whole business, but now she's actually getting excited about telling him what she wants. I guess I need to go check out the Santa at the mall to see if he's a good one. There's nothing worse than some sad-looking Santa with yellow teeth and a bad fake beard.
I'm slightly conflicted about the whole thing, though. Here I preach to my kids about telling lies and then what do we do each Christmas but make up an elaborate story about a "jolly old elf" who sneaks into people's homes at night. My son even came home from school one day last week to announce that "Caleb and Zachary don't believe in Santa Claus. They said he's just your mom and dad leaving presents." I'm not ready to ruin my son's fun, so I told him that his school friends are just trying to fool him and make him feel bad... That Santa has a magic that those kids are having trouble understanding.
Personally, I can't remember my own transition from believing in Santa to realizing it was just my mom eating the cookies we put out on Christmas Eve. I certainly did not have any kind of sudden traumatic awakening. It must be that way for most children. We've prepared our kids with the knowledge that Christmas is not just about getting gifts from Santa. There are feelings of magic, love, charity, forgiveness, and joy that seem stronger now than at any other time of the year. I think it's a good wake-up call for us all to count our blessings and remember what's important in life, and if that notice is served to you through Santa Claus, nativity scenes, a mennorah, candy canes, blinking lights, or whatever, then great!