Originally written as a comment for Ho, Ho, Ho — Merry Christmas!
I loved this discussion, too. It made me think back to my earliest memories of Christmas. I had no idea it meant anything other than everybody getting together at Dad's parents, lots of good food I never got anywhere else any other time--homemade mashmallows and popcorn balls in the afternoon, chicken and dressing for the main dinner at noon, fruitsalad with purple jello floating in the juice. I did not think anyone except my grandmother could make that kind of food.
I was born into one of the few religious groups that teach their children that Santa Claus is not true and is not appropriate for real Christians. In fact, Santa Claus seemed to be very closely related to Satan. Christmas trees were of the same category along with wrapped presents and Christmas decorations.
I never questioned when we were given plastic building blocks or tinker toys and Dad spent the day playing with us. It was just a wonderful and special time because mom and dad seemed to think so. I didn't really know what was so special. Today I imagine it was Christmas Day.
Later, when I was in my early teens, sometimes we'd go sledding on the Big Hill. We never did things specifically on Christmas Day. Sometimes we kept the day of Christmas just like any Sunday--church in the morning, Sunday clothes and Sunday toys (toys we were not allowed to play with everyday, just on Sundays), no work except the daily chores in house and barn. But we always celebrated Christmas with special food and family activities.
These days I am living in the city. I like to go for walks after dark and look at the Christmas lights and front lawn decorations other people put up. No longer being weighted down with religious scrupples about these pretty things I can truly enjoy the beauty.