My family didn't do Santa Claus when I was growing up. My mom took a lot of flack from other people for that, but I never felt deprived. My parents had their own way of making Christmas special with the three gift rule symbolizing the three gifts the Magi gave baby Jesus.
Because I don't know the narrative of Santa Claus, I often feel as if I'm making this whole thing up as I go along. That's right. I'm making up lies about what is essentially a lie. Most people would call this "story telling" but we are just not story telling people around here. Did I ever mention that I don't often read fiction because I cannot seem to suspend disbelief enough to get into a story? This is why I have never read a Harry Potter novel. Child wizards are about as far from reality as it gets. Kind of like Santa Claus is to me.
Yet my children ask whether Santa eats noodles and if he really comes down the chimney and won't he get dirty doing that and what's his address. They have gotten to the age where they ask Santa for items that mom and dad refuse to let them have. Clearly I have license to create the narrative for them. So I have.
Here are a few of the lies I've told my children:
Santa won't come if our house is a mess. This is a great way to get the kids to help clean the house.
Santa won't leave any new toys if he sees too many toys out. He'll think you have enough and move on. This works much better than my threats to throw out or banish toys they neglect to clean up.
Santa has to clear present choices with mom and dad.
Santa has a budget.
Santa doesn't deliver live animals.
I don't, however, tell them to be "good" for Santa. I don't believe that kids are good or bad, well or ill behaved. They're just human beings learning how to adult, which is something that I am still doing some days. For us, Christmas is about grace. And you don't have to earn grace.