it was very clear to me growing up, that my parents made plenty of money: frequent trips, including overseas to visit relatives... if they found a good investment property, they would just buy it (no this and that w/ a bank)
but b/c they were very fundamental Christians, my childhood experience was, as I remember, quite impoverished. To minimize ego development and self pride, there were no birthday parties, no cards, no cake, no singing happy birthday. We could pick a restaurant (in all honesty, any restaurant) for dinner, then we would go to the toy store and were allowed 1 gift. And so no one would feel left out, siblings and/or whatever friend was along could also pick one gift. So it never felt...well, special.
But of course everyone has different birthdays, so not having a birthday celebrated, was not quite as distinctive as not celebrating... Christmas.
Most of the holiday of Christmas has it's iconic symbols originating in pagan sources. Yes, Jesus was born, but there were lambs in the manger and as we all know lambs are born in the spring...
So b/c of this, we did not not celebrate Christmas. It was just another day of the year, just like all others, b/c as you can imagine... most holidays celebrated have pagan origins (though not Thanksgiving).
It always hurt so much when my schoolteacher and classmates would ask what I got for Christmas... and I couldn't even report 1 gift. Even now, the pang in my chest almost brings tears to my eyes. So once I had children, I knew I would not want them to feel this way. When my older son was in preschool, he first learned at school about the Christmas tree and then from us why we didn't have one. B/c both dh and I have similar beliefs, we don't have a Christmas tree, but this year i did get some decorations and ds1 also picked out some trimmings.
I realize that the traditions are what I did not have growing up, and I feel traditions are what can make childhood memories so wonderful. So we will do certain activities at this time of the year: hot chocolate, hot cider, visiting the Christmas train exhibit at the botanical gardens, zoolights.
And they do get presents, b/c we love them. I keep in mind their age, and how much is needed to make them thrilled, and that is then enough.
All year long, I buy stuff when I see it... at a good price.
And at the right occasion time, will give the presents depending on the child. And since my kids are young (just turned 3 and just turned 6), the need... and the capacity... changes, even monthly.
So for example, I recently contacted a woodworker who I first met at the gorgeous Common Grounds Fair in Maine to make a small table and chairs set out of birds eye maple for the kids. He assumed that it would be for Christmas. But it won't be, since at this point... I think they have enough presents to open.
I guess I write this, in answer to those who feel that too much money is spent for some people's holidays. Money is earned to be spent. Yes, some should be saved for education and retirement, but if expenses are met, and money has been saved for "a rainy day"... then what do you do w/ the leftover money?
What would you propose to do w/ this money? Arguably, any way that one spends it could be judged negatively. But should it even be judged?
Was this money earned illegally? At the expense of someone else?
This is a special time of the year. Why not make it as most special and appreciated as one feels appropriate for one's family?