I have come across a very sad thing here in my little corner of the world: children who not only don't believe in Santa Claus, but tell others that he is dead. The parents of these children often are trying to move their children away from the consumerism they see in Santa Claus and towards a focus on Jesus in the holiday. See, these parents not only don't believe in Santa Claus, they don't even understand the point. They are themselves so caught up in the consumerism that they miss the real meaning of Santa Claus, and thus miss a wonderful way of turning their children to their spirituality and community in a way that children can readily grasp and believe.
If you believe in Santa Claus, you understand that St. Nicholas is about giving, not receiving.
You may remember that we're staunch Methodists (well, we believe in comfortable furniture and stuff, but there is no denying we're Methodist in a strain older than what I have seen in any of the Methodist churches I've tried around here, which seem very. very Baptist). We believe that God has given us many, many gifts: life, the world around us, friends and families and everything in wonderful Creation. He also gave us Salvation- that was a gift, and it is given, and it is up to us to appreciate it, be grateful for it, and remember to do our best with it. That idea of giving, of putting your best forth and giving to the world, spreading love and cheer and goodwill, that is what Christmas is for, celebrating God giving us this great Gift.
That is also what Santa Claus is trying to remind us to do. By giving without expecting any return, Santa gives us a model of being a giving person, a person who thinks of others and what they want, and tries to show love in ways others understand. It is a lesson that is often lost in translation as we succumb to the me-me-me of the adolescent age, and so many never seem to emerge from it.
Telling a child that Santa is dead is not only unfortunate, it dismisses the lesson he has to give us all, the very message of the joy of Christmas and of the Christ. It is the core of Christian belief, which is why St. Nicholas, patron saint of children everywhere, is so adored.
I believe in Santa Claus.