We’ve never shilled for Santa Claus in our house, nor for the Easter Bunny, nor for any other commercialized Christian travesty. The Tooth Fairy we tolerated, but only because the pretense was so obviously ridiculous that our kids understood from the outset that we were putting them on. We’re not Jehovah’s Witnesses, mind you; it’s just that the true story of Christmas is far more compelling than Clement Moore’s saccharine fabrication, and we didn’t want our kids to learn one day, with disillusionment and a sense of betrayal, that there really is no Santa Claus and their parents had been lying to them — and worse, to wonder what other things we’d lied about.
A friend related to us once the logical extrapolation her child made when first learning the truth about Santa: “Is God real?” How ironic that Santa should sow the seeds of atheism!
For economic, as well as theological, reasons, we’ve always celebrated Christmas modestly. Not only did we want our kids to understand the true meaning of Christmas; we also lacked the resources to spend extravagantly, even if we’d wanted to. And it seemed absurd to credit what largesse we could afford to some imaginary buffoon in a red clown suit. Thus was “Daddy Claus” born.