A while back I argued that it is immoral to lie to children about Santa, Richard Chapell over at Philosophy, etc responded that pretending with the child that there is a Santa is a morally acceptable and praise-worthy action. I tend to agree with him on this point. But I do not think that most people are pretending with their children.
Evidence for this comes from the strong social pressure not to tell children that there is no Santa. If this is all pretense and everyone knows it then what is wrong with pointiing out that we are pretending. If you tell a child pretending that a banna is a phone that the object they are using is really a bannana and not a phone they will tell you that they know that and keep pretending. But if you tell a child that there is no Santa this is not the reaction that one typically gets.
So how can you tell if you are pretending or not? One sure fire way is how you deal with the question ‘Mommy/Daddy is Santa real?’ but it seems to me that if your child has to ask this question then you haven’t been pretending.