When I have kids, and I really do want kids despite the extreme difficulty, it seems I'll have to deal with Santa Claus. A lot people have strong feelings about telling kids about Santa and how great the memories are and how cool it is to believe in made-up things for kids. There is, however, another camp that really doesn't understand the need to lie to kids, the pain of disillusionment when they find out he doesn't exist, etc. etc.
I like the idea of Santa. It's a cute, harmless cultural tradition here in the Western, christian world (though I suppose he's not particularly religious a figure). At the same time, I am against feeding lies to a child. It's a tough line to walk. So far the best idea I've heard and one I plan on using is telling my kids:
"Listen, there is no Santa. Mommy and Daddy put the presents under the tree for Christmas. But at Christmastime everyone pretends there is a Santa."
Perhaps it'll be couched in more kid-friendly terms but that will be the gist of it. This shouldn't lead to my child ruining other kids' Chirstmas and me getting yelled at by other parents, in theory at least. And it shouldn't make my children social pariahs by being hardcore sceptics at the age of four. I don't really see the harm in actively pretending there is a Santa so long as the child understands that it's a fiction that people willingly participate in. After all, that is one of the more important concepts people learn as they grow up.