When I was a child, I don't remember ever having that watershed moment of realization that SANTA CLAUS ISN'T REAL?!?!?!? But for that matter, I also don't remember much effort being made to keep me believing either. I think it was the same for Ben. We rather like this approach.
Society is so very immersed in certain beliefs that it can be fairly difficult to buck certain trends or traditions. Abby gets asked quite a bit about what she's asking Santa for Christmas. What if we never fostered that belief in the jolly old elf with her; how confused would that make her? We, as a society, have certain vested beliefs that we often unilaterally apply to everyone.
I'm not against Santa in theory. It's a fun bit of make-believe that isn't damaging or teaching things that I don't agree with. But the pressure on children to believe does crumble my Christmas cookies a bit. (It's the same irritation I feel, though on a much lesser scale, when strangers naturally assume that my daughter is a "princess" or into very diva-esque things. We go out of our way to not encourage that, and (wait for it....) she's not.) It seems like the question at stake here is would our daughters be adversely affected if they are not strongly encouraged to believe in Santa?
We don't think so. Society doesn't force or expect children to continue to believe in unicorns or leprechauns, so what's the big deal about Santa (and the tooth fairy or Easter Bunny)? Disappointingly, Santa is pretty lucrative for the economy. Leprechauns just don't sell a lot of candy or toys for children.
We're cool with Santa insofar as it doesn't affect our wallet. Bottom line, my children: believe in Santa if you want and you're certainly welcome to give up that belief any time you choose. Given the choice between leaving out milk & cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve or making a birthday cake for Jesus on Christmas Day, we hope that you choose the latter. Talk about belief and faith...