Actually, it was originally published as an essay at the Dallas Morning News; it may still be available in their archives, but I'm suspecting you might have to have a subscription to access it now.
Since 'tis the season, though, I thought I'd make it easy for those who are looking for it:
In my house tonight, the children will be waiting for St. Nicholas with eager joy. Not all Christian parents would be happy with this situation.
Some have decided that whether you call him Santa Claus or St. Nick, the Christmas Eve night caller is not welcome in their homes. The real St. Nicholas, they say, was a holy bishop about whom little is known. This jolly fellow surrounded with legends of secret generosity or stories of elves and reindeer is really just a fib. And Christians don't lie to their children.
Are we lying to our children, with our ancient stories and cherished poems of a kindly saint who loves all children and hears their whispered wishes and dreams? Not at all – we are telling them the truth. It's just that some truths can't be found in scholarly lectures or discovered in dry books of facts. When we teach our wide-eyed little ones the legend of St. Nicholas, we are teaching them essential lessons about faith, hope and unconditional love. When we sit by glowing embers to share with them our December stories, we instruct them in such virtues as generosity, patience and the sort of kindness that expects no reward.
And they are able to learn these things from us because for a few short weeks every year, we find it possible to enter the world of make-believe. We fill our homes with songs and stories, and turn ordinary rooms into glittering palaces. The everyday world is swept away.
I'm happy to report that my children suffered no damage from our sharing the mythical aspects of the St. Nicholas story with them, and even appreciated the whole thing when it was time for them to move beyond it.
I'm happy to share another blogger's experience of the same thing, and to point out that we need a bit more pretending around childhood, instead of the stern realism that wants five-year-olds taught the mechanics not only of sexual intercourse but of various perverse sex acts as well.
I'm happy to insist that we don't have to start the reading of every fairy tale or the playing of every princess DVD by sitting with our children and saying, "Now, you understand that this isn't true, right? That it's just a story? That there have never been dragons to be killed or enchanted princesses to be awakened with a kiss? I wouldn't want you going around and believing in any of this," even if they do, in fact, believe in a magical land full of princes in disguise and noble deeds and heroic chivalry until they're old enough to realize that the world of childhood enchantment wasn't strictly true--but that it ought to be.
And I'm happy to wish, as his feast day draws nearer, that all of my readers will welcome St. Nicholas, whether he visits their home and children or not--and that those who choose not to continue this charming tradition will not stigmatize the rest of us as evil liars bent on fraud and diabolical deceit--because we all know that the hallmark of the evil one is stepping back and letting a holy saint in Heaven take the lion's share of the credit for parental generosity and gifts of love once a year, right?