So, a friend of mine is an elf named Shortcake. Shortcake has a blog. You'd think that an elf would have a good grasp of how the magic of Santa works, but apparently Shortcake either can't decide how the magic works, or is uncomfortable disclosing specific information about her employer. So, she's posted on her blog (yes, I'm friends with an elf who blogs) 3 views of how Santa gets his job done.
Now, ordinarilly, I'd not question an elf's description of what goes on with Santa, but I also know that Shortcake went to the Elf Math & Science Academy, which is woefully lacking in useful subject matter. They seem to think things like the laws of physics are immutable, and that 2+2 must always equal 4. They forget that "Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond."
So, here's how I think it works. Santa is magical, but practical. And, he is always exactly who he needs to be. Sometimes he really is just a "Nice old man with a beard." But other times he's able to send his spirit into other people, so that the Santa at the mall, really is Santa. Even if he's a 25 year old who needs a little padding and some help with the beard. But see, that's the easy part. Santa can also be your grandma who gives you a cookie just when you need one most. Or Santa can be your big brother when he uses his own money to get you just the right gift. Why violate the laws of physics when you don't have to? When there are so many people in the world that can be just a little bit Santa all the time. That, of course, frees up Santa to work at the North Pole to get ready for his big trip each year. Because sometime, for some people, there needs to be, there must be that moment of magic on Christmas morning that can happen no other way.
So, for all the Virginias out there, (myself included) your little friends are wrong. And they're missing out on something amazing.