I absolutely love Christmas!
It's Jesus' birthday, after all. I'm glad that the secular world makes such a huge fuss. Yes, I know that many people refuse to recognize that Jesus is God, but whether they acknowledge it or not, they are recognizing His birthday with their huge holiday celebration, and that's wonderful!
My favorite part of Christmas is all the shows, plays, musicals, cantatas, concerts, etc. I especially love being a part of such productions. Since I play piano, I am "in demand" at this time of year, and have made enough money to pay for my Christmas expenses--yay! But even if I'm just sitting in the audience, I love a good Christmas play, movie, concert, etc.
I also love re-reading various Christmas stories, especially The Christmas Carol by Dickens. I keep all my Christmas books in a basket and bring them out right after Thanksgiving.
I also enjoy all the family get-togethers. As I mentioned in another thread, my husband and I don't give gifts to extended family. Instead, we give time by purchasing three days at a local resort (a restored Victorian home) and inviting our siblings, their children, and our parents. It's so relaxing and fun. We host a huge dinner for everyone in the family whether they are spending the night at the resort or not, and we cook it ourselves, and my daughters help--so much fun for everyone.
And I LOVE the music! Christmas carols and songs never, ever get tiresome. I'll admit that "Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer" and Santa Baby" are not my favorites. But I always try to recall the first time I ever heard these songs, and recapture that moment of hilarity in my imagination.
And I LOVE the decorations, especially the lights. Around here (Northern Illinois), it gets dark early and many of the days seem dark all day when there is snow in the air. The beautiful lights make everything so cheerful. Last night we drove by a house (my parents-in-law's neighbor) who routinely turns his home into a "Winter Wonderland." It was amazing--the entire house was covered with lights, and he had hundreds of lighted figures set out all over the lawn, including the best manger scene that I've ever seen! I loved it!
And I love the shopping. We don't buy a lot of expensive things, but we do buy for our daughters. The stores are so pretty and everyone is generally friendly. Last week we went to downtown Chicago, Michigan Ave, and bought an American Girls doll for our niece--everyone in the city was so friendly and welcoming. (It was the last pleasant winter day with mild temps and no snow--the very next day, the snow and bitter cold arrived, and we are now sitting in a deep freeze).
And of course, I love the ice skating! I don't skate, but my whole family does, and at this time of year, many local rinks do an ice show or carnival. Our show was last weekend, and my husband played Herr Drosselmeir in the skating club's "Theater On Ice" number. Many of the children did wonderful holiday numbers and it was so pretty. It's too late now for most of you to look for these ice shows, but next year, keep them in mind. They're usually really cheap to attend, and lots of fun for children (large families). My daughter's rink in the St. Louis area does one of the prettiest and best Nutcracker On Ice Productions in the U.S., and it's very cheap to buy tickets in advance.
But above all else, I love the Reason for the Season, Jesus!
If someone prefers to celebrate the Feast Day of Jesus' birth quietly, prayerfully, and in solititude, that is a fine option.
All of the above things that I mentioned are totally optional. No one forces anyone to whoop it up at Christmas time. We can say "no" to most of the Christmas activities and American customs. No one has to spend a lot of money on gifts--most of us in the U.S. have all that we need, and we are happy just to receive a phone call or nice note from our family and friends. No one is forced to turn on the TV or radio, and if you dislike Christmas music in the stores, wear headphones--lots of people do. If you choose, you can keep your house in darkness and clear of all decorations except a Creche, and then put up the lights on Christmas Day for the liturgical Christmas season (although I personally wouldn't want to put up any lights right now in this bitter weather).
And you don't have to go near an ice rink.
Just celebrate Jesus' birthday in your own way, and let others celebrate in their way. The main thing is that we celebrate it. Think about it--every time we say the creed, we celebrate Christmas when we bow during the phrase, "By the power of the Holy Spirit, He was born of the Virgin Mary and became man." If that's all you choose to do, that is everything and it's good.