As the fifth of six children, I cannot recall ever believing in Santa Claus.
My parents put out cookies, and spoke of Santa, even signing his name on gift tags, but I never believed in Santa.
As a parent, I just avoid Santa talk. I might read "A Visit from St. Nicholas" -- but I don't tell my children about Santa or try to convince them that he is the one giving gifts, filling stockings, or eating the cookies after Midnight Mass. And yet, they've heard about Santa from enough relatives and well-meaning friends that they all know about the idea.
For our family, Advent is an important time of preparation. We don't decorate until Gaudete Sunday, the third Sunday in Advent, or later. Right now is a time for purple candles and the Jesse Tree -- we will also celebrate Hanukkah, as we do every year -- but the whole Santa thing makes the focus of the season the presents. Children don't need to be reminded about the presents. They focus there just fine.
Instead, I want my children to see the poverty and simplicity of the Christ Child, the Savior of the world come as a tiny helpless small defenseless creature. Santa Claus overwhelms that message with Norelco razors and Wii systems and large screen TVs.
Amy Schley posted that at this time of year, working in a mall, she feels like a priestess in the cult of Santa. And certainly the large number of people who "celebrate" Christmas by putting up a tree, giving gifts, and wearing green and red clothing often seem to be oblivious of the Holy Day behind the Holiday.
I love Saint Nicholas, but I don't love Santa Claus. Thoughts?