"Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveller, thousands of miles away, back to his own fireside and his quiet home!" (Dickens' Pickwick Papers)
So. I enjoy Christmas. When I was in my late teens my family and I attended a church that kept Old Test holidays, so we didn't keep Christmas for about 7 years--and this is one of the most beneficial things I got from that church experience. We had 7 years of collective playah hating--of trashing the materialism and lack of values of the holiday... it was a very deconstructionist period in my life. And now that that's out of my system, I can enjoy myself.
My family and I have since kept Christmas (usually in January or February, and then we called it Winterval or Festivus - the airing of grievances!) but with no pressure, no expectations, no disappointments and fights, no turkey dinner, no hours of prep and cooking and stress. Christmas became an excuse to get together and eat chips and shortbread cookies and hang. Once you strip away the bullshit, you can take a new enjoyment out of such things.
And since my husband grew up in that same church, this is something my in-laws *get* as well. I buy a few presents for my sisters-in-law and co., but it's all very low scale. The only other presents I buy are for the managers at work, and that's fun. We hang up stockings in the office and stuff them with treats and junk.
I think the other thing that kept Christmas down-graded in my life was this working retail--you just can't commit to stressful dinners and events and parties when you have one day off in the biggest retail week of the year. Fernando works at a hospital, so he only gets Cmas or New Years off. Usually I sit alone at home and watch A Christmas Carol and eat. If Fernando's home then we watch Heidi and eat veggie burgers.
So all in all... it's just a Not Big Deal. (I don't mean the commercialism and materialism etc. aren't problems. But my philosophical beliefs don't tend to drive my day to day emotions.) The first year I am no longer working for a retail store, I will do a little more than veggie burgers--maybe fly out and spend Christmas with my mother for the first time since I was, like, 16.
I love the catalogues, I love all the new products coming out, the new albums, the new books, the gadgets... I love going to the Basket Company to see all their cool crap and buy a couple stocking stuffers. I love going to 10 Thousand Villages to buy a couple decorations. I like to curl up in my jammies with catalogues and maybe a Christmas magazine. The most money we spent in past was buying the handmade decorations that Fernando's foster mother made (a big source of income for his foster parents.)
I absolutely DETEST the cold, so the coming of Christmas provides me with a sort of gentle lead-in to The Horror The Horror. Because of my behaviouralistically built in positive associations with the lights, the stories, the movies, the music, and the baking... If I have enough energy left over from school then I put up my little fake tree and decorate it. I feel all warm and fuzzy until January hits me in the face with a snow shovel.
And the final reason I love Christmas: A Christmas Carol is one of my favourite books ever, and this is the time of year I get to enjoy it. It's fun to have certain things that you only enjoy at one time of the year. I either reread Dickens, or listen to my Patrick Stewart audio while baking, or watch Alistair Sims, or Mr Magoo. And my ALL TIME FAVE audio version, with Mr Pickwick on the B side! (Ooh I'm ready to write my first hiphop-reggae Christmas song! "Mistah Pickwick on da B side...")
The nice thing about Dickens is that you get to enjoy Christmas, and honour your philosophical/spiritual beliefs. ;-)
``Spirit! are they yours?'' Scrooge could say no more.
``They are Man's,'' said the Spirit, looking down upon them. ``And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy."
``Have they no refuge or resource?'' cried Scrooge.
``Are there no prisons?'' said the Spirit, turning on him for the last time with his own words. ``Are there no workhouses?''