There was a time when people regarded God as being almost magical, and political and religious leaders promoted the idea of God as a dispenser of rewards and punishments for good and bad behaviour, and this view still persists for many people. Using this understanding, children were encouraged to regard God in this way. As secularism grew, it seemed some parents and other adults wanted children to have a magical intervener. This desire by adults for children to believe in a magical figure, such as the tooth fairy or Santa Claus, puzzles me. Why would good parents want their children to believe a lie aside from being culturally in-tune?
As the influence of the church has shrank over the years, the Santa Claus myth seems to keep growing and expanding, and many adults are increasingly anxious that children believe in Santa. There is a payoff for retailers, and it has become a source of material for programs around Christmas time for the various media. Is there a payoff for children in the long run? I suspect not, but invite comments on this.