When my husband and I had kids we had slightly different philosophies about how we were going to handle "the Santa Issue". He was raised to believe there was a Santa and I was raised in a non-Santa environment.
I was uncomfortable with what I considered a deception; he maintained it was harmless and nobody is permanently scarred from the discovery that Santa isn't real. (Oh, sorry if I spoiled that for anyone who still believes... oopsie!) Indeed he seems quite fine. He has very fond memories of childhood Christmases and no bad memories of the event at all. Since my family never celebrated Christmas I yielded to him as the Holiday Expert.
Five years later my son is now in Kindergarten and has asked me twice if Santa Claus is real. As expected, bigger kids are telling littler kids that Santa isn't real. So, I put the question off by saying he needs to talk to his dad about it as his dad is the Santa Expert. Julius says, "Why is Dad the Santa Expert? Why aren't you a Santa Expert?" Er, well... now that's another long story.
Fast forward a week and finally I can't stand it anymore and we decide we're going to fess up and explain about Santa Claus. We go into some long drawn out explanation about how Santa is a symbol of Giving, Generosity, Good Times. (I resisted the urge to add Greed, Excessive Consumerism, Poor Financial Choices and Hedonism.) We explained why "we" thought it would be fun for him to believe in Santa, fun for him, fun for us to give him Santa gifts and all that. We stressed the whole "symbolism" thing as a way of not completely admitting that we're big fat liars.
While symbolism and the spirit of giving and all that is a really nice story, the real truth is Mommy and Daddy killed Santa Claus.
At the end of this protracted and horrible explanation we just sat there looking at him and asked how he felt about it. He said he was sad, although he suspected the kids were right. And he looked horribly disappointed. I, of course, felt like crying and was filled pretty much to the top with self-loathing... 'cause, you know, I'm a Santa Killer.
I asked him what we should do about his little brother. To tell or not to tell? He says we should tell Tristan the truth and also tell him that Big Brother is sad about there not being a real Santa.
Right now the boys are piled on their Dad watching The Santa Clause. I'm all for Hollywood breaking the news next time.