I remember as a kid thinking my parents were crazy for not buying each other presents at Christmas. It was so much fun tearing into presents with eager anticipation and experiencing the joy of those wonderful gifts. I can honestly say I was always fully aware and thankful of all the wonderful gifts from my parents and cherished the memories my parents created for me. They always focused on my sister and me and made sacrifices to make Christmastime special. Oh and by the way, we believed in Santa and suffered no ill effects from this mythical tradition. (well, no more ill effects than normal!) In fact just about the time I was "wise" to the Santa gig my mom simply said, "If you want to continue getting presents from Santa...." and that was all it took!
I also remember my teen years that I became more aware of the sacrifices my parents made so they could do more for me. I remember thinking, I don't know if I could make such sacrifices! I know selfish right? Well, I have to say that since we've had Gracie I fully understand what they felt all those years. Amy and I used to lavish each other with gifts when we were first married, but even before Gracie we questioned the need to do so. Nonetheless, it wasn't until we got Gracie that we fully experienced how incredible it felt to buy for her. As she has gotten older, and her anticipation and appreciation has grown, that joy of buying for her has only increased. This year has been particularly entertaining as she drops subtle (and some not so subtle) hints as to what she would like for Christmas. The reminders and updates are frequent and quite amusing! We are thankful and blessed to be able to make Christmas a special time for Gracie.
I've seen lots of discussion including "Keep Christ In Christmas," and "Christmas is too commercialized," and "we are a country of greed and waste," and "Belief in Santa will damage your child's psyche," and I wanted to note that I find good sound arguments and points for all these topics. But in light of all that, it is up to the individual family to keep things in perspective. Further, if we stopped judging how others celebrate (or don't celebrate) and/or deal with Christmas and instead focus on how we carry out these traditions, things would be much better.
We have always focused our Christmas traditions and experiences on Christ and the real reason for Christmas. Gracie loves the Christmas story and regularly recites and inquires about it. We reinforce the values and key messages from scripture every time we get the opportunity. We also allow Gracie to enjoy the belief of Santa but with careful words and even some factual origins of this traditional figure. I'm sure our way of doing things is not the same as other families', and furthermore it surely isn't perfect, but everything we do, we try to refocus to the real reason we celebrate Christmas.