Every year as Christmas draws near, you hear echoes of the Santa debate: "I'm not going to lie to my children," etc. etc. This goes on in the Letters to the Editor of the Chicago Tribune, as well. I had to laugh when a self-professed pagan mom said that she has instructed her children to answer, if other kids wondered if they got anything from Santa, "My parents give me everything I need." (As if Santa were about "needs".) But for the record, they celebrate (yes, they do) the Winter Solstice ("the most wonderful time of the year!"). (You have to celebrate something to break the gloom of winter.)
Actually, it would be ridiculous for a pagan to invoke Santa, St. Nick, the Three Kings or any other transcendent gift-bringer, because at rock bottom, Santa brings presents because God is a free giver of abundant grace. Santa Claus teaches us that first, most important lesson: "Every good and perfect gift comes from above, from the Father of lights." What about the "naughty/nice" list? The stocking full of coal? Well, not even grace can penetrate a heart that is indisposed to receive it.
So Santa Claus is as true as any parable Jesus ever told. The whole story of Santa Claus is a parable of grace: a free gift, coming from on high, totally beyond our power and merit.