This may not be a question you've asked yourself, but as Ethan got older, we struggled a bit with this. I felt like I sat on the fence: The idea of Santa Claus is so magical, exciting and fun but it also seemed to distract from the true reason of the season. I wasn't so comfortable with telling the tale and having my children wait in anticipation of Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, but I also didn't want to have the one kid who "spoiled" Christmas for all the other preschoolers!! :)
As we approached the Christmas when Ethan was 2, I read the story of the evolution of Santa Claus. I was surprised to learn that it derived from the true tale of a Christ loving man by the name of Nicholas. His love for the needy is inspirational. He demonstrated the gift of mercy as he cared for the poor.
I couldn't remember ever learning this. He died in 343 AD and his good deeds made known and people began to celebrate St. Nicholas Day. Over time, with the change and corruption of leaders his saint title was altered and he became known as Father Christmas in much of the world. There is much more to the story of how this real man came to be a chubby, red suited gift giver. I think every family needs to decide how to celebrate Christmas.
With the help of Martha Zimmerman in her book Celebrating the Christian Year, we began celebrating "Sinterklass" like they do in Holland. The beauty of celebrating a holiday like this is that you can choose your day. We aim to have it around Dec. 6, but coordinate it with our tree and Christmas decorating. (We also do it on a weekend so Tim won't have to rush out to work). We read the book The Story of St. Nicolas: More Than Reindeer and a Red Suit. This is a great book with beautiful illustrations. It explains so sweetly the story of Nicholas and how today we can celebrate HIM in Santa Claus--so you can tell your kids he is real and they won't spoil anyone else's family celebrations! :) That night the kids put their shoes out because Nicholas would throw money and food through open windows. Some was always caught in the shoes and socks that were put there to dry.