I grew up in a home where we talked about Santa, took pictures with him at the mall, baked him cookies, you name it. Then every Christmas morning my mother would read about the birth of Jesus from the Bible. On the other hand, my husband's family didn't do Santa at all for the most part outside of referring to him as the "spirit of giving" when he was older. That's it.
When it comes to our immediate family unit we don't teach Santa, but at the same time we don't discourage Maddie from believing in him. We haven't mentioned Santa to her but she's come home from school talking about him. I won't tell her he's not real. She's three, has an impeccable imagination and I'm certain like the rest of us she'll figure it out soon enough on her own. She also believes in Mickey Mouse, Cinderella, and a bunch of other fake characters too, so I'm pretty sure this thought process in children is quite normal.
When she asks questions about him I answer them. For instance, the other day she saw a huge Santa outside of a store and asked "does Santa live at the North Pole?" So I answered. For one, there is no escaping Santa Claus this time of year. He's everywhere; even in our neighbors front yard. Secondly, she's hearing things about him at every turn, otherwise she wouldn't have known to specifically ask about the North Pole in the first place (as I'm certain we've never mentioned it). I know we can easily counter whatever she's been told in order to ensure that she knows he isn't real. But, it's just not necessary to teach against Santa in my opinion.
Again, we don't go out of our way to teach about Santa either. We don't take pictures with Santa at the mall. We don't tell her that he's bringing her gifts nor do we leave gifts with "From Santa" under the tree. Besides, she only gets three gifts anyway, remember! The only thing we do that's contrary to all I've stated about not teaching Santa is baking cookies on Christmas Eve. It's a tradition I loved doing the most with my late mother so it's one of those things I can't help but do with my child(ren). Honestly, it's more about the baking together than anything else but leaving them out for Santa is something she's said she wants to do so she's aware of that part of it and I'm totally okay with that.
Ultimately, we want to make sure that our children understand the true meaning of Christmas. So, we'll definitely be reading the Bible on Christmas morning as I did growing up. Also, as our children get older I look forward to discussing how we can give back and actively serve in the community around this time of the year. But for now, she chooses to believe in Santa and wants to discuss him and I'm totally okay with that too.
This is such an interesting topic with varying opinions, so I'd love to hear your thoughts and/or approach on the subject. Chime in below in the comments section!