I come from a religious family, but I’ll be honest that my earliest impressions of Christmas were pretty selfish. As a kid, Christmas was the time were you get awesome presents, play in the snow and eat delicious honey-baked ham. As I’ve gotten older and matured in my spirituality, I find the birth of Jesus to be an extremely beautiful story.
For me, Christmas is about family. The tremendous love and determination of Joseph and Mary is what made such a humble birth to be so spectacular. I feel no other Christian Holiday is able to capture the ideal Christian family better than Christmas. Christmas is also about family for very personal reasons. My brother and I have chosen to seek out our future and fortune far away from home, and Christmas is only time of the year where my family gets together.
I hate how Christmas is in Japan and anime, but I understand why it is so. Japan has little to no contact with Christianity, but has been flooded with Western media for decades. The commercial and capitalistic Christmas, which is the most visible, is what Japan has received. Japan already has holidays devoted to family so devoting Christmas to couples is a natural evolution. I wish the Christian message could be better delivered in Japan, but I don’t see modern Christmas ever being that vehicle. I also wish there were more Christian anime, but that’s another conversation all together.
We’ve taught our children that it’s the “Season of Giving”. We make it a point to help out a family in need (basically adopt them for Xmas) and we collect food for the non denominational charity we support. I used your exact explanation as to how other people celebrate the season based on their beliefs. I figure if I can teach my kids how to be better, giving and more loving people during this season then I’ve done a good job.