I give presents and decorate a tree, but mark the occasion less than I did in dark midwinter Britain. But in celebrating it's more a recognition of the holiday's deep pre-Christian roots in a worldview that celebrated the natural world than it is any adherence to the worship of the god of a repressive (and at times violent) church hierarchy.
In England, I was always taught that the idea of hi-jacking the biggest pagan festival of the year, and overlaying it with some nefarious Christian message or other in a crude attempt to subvert it's meaning, was a desperate admission by the Roman Emperor of the (now) Roman Church's total failure to truly win over the hearts-and-minds of the Celtic
Savages' who had learned the wisdom of payinglip-service' to whatever Rome wanted, and so staying alive!
The choice of "excuse" to supplant paganism was limited, the whole concept of Christianity being woven around his Death/return to the Land-of-the-Living/and subsequent Ascension! Those aspects were well-known, oft re-told, and even documented in part! But precious little was known about his date of birth, so that seemed to fit the bill, also fitting-in nicely with the whole Midwinter Solstice business of the fragility of re-birth of the year/world/life, and so of hope! BUT this was a PAGAN Festival, spread over 12-nights to encourage the successful regeneration of the Planet, and all life on it! It never was a Christian feast in it's own right, just a sloppy effort to supplant the old religion. It is very EASY to celebrate and enjoy WITHOUT carols, hymns, angels, mangers and sundry tacky plastic barn-yard recreations! NB.-the Holly & the Ivy are ALSO Pagan!
Being an English European I never could fully understand the complexeties of life in the USA, and the sheer extent of God-bothering in some States. Especially as we know that, after a year or two as underpaid and exploited relgious refugee immigrants in the NetherLands, the Plymouth Bretheren made their way back over to England where their agent had commissioned a couple of old ships in Plymouth for their reluctant and desperate flight to `The New World' in search of Religious Freedom, & the right to worship their God, as they saw fit!
So it does seem somewhat hypoctitical to many of us that the US should be SO intolerant of free-thinking!
For me so much of what were the joys of Christmas began to disappear when I moved from England to southern California - the long, slow winter twilights and even longer dark nights, the twinkle of frost under street lights, brass band carols in the cold night air (in fact, any carols - like the hymns we sang at the daily morning assembly, they carry within them even now the sound of Christmastime - hereabouts they're an endangered species, the American preference seeming to be for Christmas hits like "Little Drummer Boy" and "I'll Be Home For Christmas" ), Boxing Day... I think the truth is that December 25th is a children's festival and its return each year the chance to revisit our own childhood.
We used to celebrate it when the children were little, mostly so they wouldn't feel weird and excluded when all their friends were into it. You can make it a fun secular observance if you minimize the shallow commercial nature of it.
Now that we have an empty nest and our children basically don't visit us for that holiday, we pretty much ignore it, to the point that we scarcely register its passing. It's something we're aware of (how could you not be because it's all around you), but then again I'm aware of a lot of things I don't particularly pay attention to, like Cinco de Mayo and the World Series and the Kentucky Derby and Take Your Kid To Work Day and so forth.
Oy vey, I celebrate bubkis! My folks were both first generation American. My dad was raised Greek Orthodox (like my grandfather) though his mom was German Lutheran. My mother was raised Orthodox Jewish. By the time they raised us kids, my grandparents had all died so the religious aspects had disappeared. We were immersed in culture without religious connotation. My twin bed, wedged between my older and younger sisters beds was ideal for Christmas. I was the one who had the perfect view of the Christmas tree year after year through the whole season. In the evenings we'd light the menorah. Years and years of crisis later and suddenly my life has shifted gears to a pleasant enjoyable existence and I've found some peace.
And what do I celebrate? Seasons and Mother Nature and thunderstorms and flowers coming up in my garden and digging in the Earth. I think I get where you're coming from when you say you celebrate the Natural World.
I don't think of myself as celebrating Xmas as much as participating in parts of it. Particularly since the parts I participate in are all the Pagan parts -- decorating my home with pine branches, sending out secular-themed greeting cards, buying small gifts for close friends and family. And, of course, baking like a maniac because what else is a winter festival about than stuffing your face as much as you can in a time of scarcity, before what few foods are left rot? Even if scarcity is mostly historical for people like me.
I enjoyed Christmas when my children were young. It was fun to give them presents and have an extended family Christmas dinner. My children are grown and my parents are gone so now I no longer celebrate Christmas. There is no reason to. The Jesus story is a myth and there is nothing for me to observe.
No we don't now - we used to have a 'Christmas' for the sake of the kids when they were young and we slowly weaned them off the religious aspects of it that the school was indoctrinating the kids with.
Now we just enjoy the break from working for the man.
I love making cookies, putting up lights, tree, - yes about eight bins of christmas stuff. I don't do the gift thing but I do the food and bright lights and I like christmas songs. I have family and others who don't have a place to go to over. Joy Joy to all. Heck I even put up my beloved manger scene that I received in childhood. I was also one of those atheist in the pew for 35 of my fifty years of life and raised my daughter in the liberalish luthren faith. What was an atheist in in North Dakota to do.
A time for family, a time to celebrate the turning of a new year a reason to for a little while contemplate the good in one another.
People had been doing this in December for literally thousands of years, until the Godbotherers hijacked in the name of their Zombie demigod so why not?