Things are changing fast these days, with toddlers wishing for iPads, grade schoolers emailing their Christmas lists and moms wrestling over bargain toys at midnight sales. Despite all the pressures on the rituals of the season, an AP-GfK poll confirms that families are sticking by old St. Nick.
"It's important for kids to have something to believe in," says great-grandmother Wanda Smith of Norman, Okla.
And so they do. Year after year, Santa Claus survives the scoffers and the Scrooges and the 6-year-old playground skeptics. He endures belittling commercials that portray him shopping at Target or taking directions from an iPhone. He shrugs off scolds who say his bagful of toys overshadows the reason for the season.
Two-thirds of parents with kids under 18 say Santa's an important part of their celebrations this year. Moms, especially, have a soft spot for the man in red — 71 percent of them say he's important, and that's a big jump from 58 percent just five years ago.