Yeah yeah, I know, there's more to Santa than that. For a start, the guy he's modelled on was once a real person - Saint Nicholas. Sure, his image seems to have been misappropriated for dastardly commercial reasons. If Saint Nick was around these days he'd probably be living the high life on the proceeds of his lawsuit against Coca-Cola for portraying him as a ruddy fat bastard in their latest ad campaign.
|Coke Time: otherwise known in my house as|
Santa, like all white lies, serves a very important purpose. And that purpose is to allow the gift-giver to remain anonymous, so either a) that uncreative gift of socks and a hanky can be blamed on Santa; or b) as your child unwraps the latest toy, everyone is focused on the sheer delight beaming from his face, rather than the chagrined faces of his parents, who are wondering how they will pay the credit card bill in January.
And you know what else? A bit like God, the tooth fairy, the Easter Bunny, unicorns and whatever else you believe in, Santa brings just a little bit of magic into our lives. And it's magic that makes a childhood.