That…doesn’t compute for me.
I mean, I respect that in some cases there’s trauma there, of course. But for me, I never stopped believing in Santa. Even when I realized that my mom was the one putting the gifts in the stockings and under the tree (or in the clogs by the fire, for Sinterklaas Day).
To me, Santa continued to exist — he just got my mom to do his work for him. There was a short period of time during which I was confused, but it cleared up pretty quickly. (This is nothing like how I felt when I realized my bio-sire was the tooth fairy. There was betrayal there — but that has to do with the long history of my bio-sire being a lying bastard.)
This is rather similar to the gods, honestly.
They’re not corporeal, but we do Their work.
I still believe in Santa. He’s the Spirit of Giving. Parents do his work, and children leave him offerings. His devotees dress up as him and spread joy to children in malls — how is this different from dressing up as the gods in ritual to help other pilgrims find answers? (It’s not. Not really.)
When I have kids, I have every intention of raising them to believe in Santa. Giving him cookies and milk (and making a carrot cake for the Easter Bunny!) will prepare them to give offerings to the gods in ritual. Teaching them that their parents do the will of Santa (and, again, the Easter Bunny) once a year prepares them for the idea that humans do the will of the gods. The pageantry of Mall Santas will prepare them for pagan clergy and ritual wear. Whether or not my future ogrelets remain in paganism when they grow older, I’ll at least be giving them a foundation wherein they won’t be traumatized when they find out that Santa isn’t a corporeal being.