How do I feel about the Holidays, now I have peeled back many layers of religious indoctrination and desire to live life and interpret it through rational means?
In some ways I am as familiar and comfortable with "Christmas" and a kind of "American T.V. Hanukkah" as I ever was.
What do I believe? I believe that this is a time of human celebration that existed long before, or as long as, any other tradition later grafted into it. The dogma's and doctrines I find detract from the "human family" spirit of the season. Christmas was co-opted from an ancient Pagan "festival of the lights" which seems to have a Jewish cousin. I think the explanation for the holidays is simple.
In times long before artificial light when a fire may have been the only man-made night lighting, many earth-peoples noted the lengthening nightly darkness and the arrival of the dominance of the "lights" or stars over the daily cycle.
A lot of our ancient traditions come from cultures that are largely in the northern hemisphere. Something similar happens down south, just 6 months out of sync. So, everywhere you are, there is a time of year where the sun's day shortens and darkness seems to continually conquer the cycle of day and night. We know, of course, that this doesn't so much happen at the equator.
Also, the earth is always 50% light and 50% shadow at any given moment. It just so happens that during certain times of year and because of our 23.5 degree tilt, your house may only spin through a section of the light side and a lot more of the dark side. This may help if you don't already "get it":
Clickest Thou Unto This Place
Day and Night, and the seasonal difference in length of the "light vs. the dark" hours seem to be ready symbols for the struggle between light and dark or good and evil. I think humans have such a strong sense of these ideas because the planet spins.
December 25th also marks the first visible hint that the Sun's long day will return as the position of sun-rise begins to move back along the horizon. (Really, the angled Earth's motion around the sun is the actual event being observed).
Now THAT is cause for celebration involving light! The Sun, our life giving and sustaining star, will surely return to maintain life and eventually rule the longer days. The Sun starts winning the contest of day/night length around Easter, "coincidentally".
I like shiny, sparkly, red, green and fun things so I like Christmas. Nothing says "long nights of many stars" more than a Christmas tree. Nothing says how glorious it will be when the Sun returns (in spring) than a Star above a tree, or 7 to 9 burning candles. Since I think that Christians co-opted the holiday to promote their mythos, I do get a deep internal groan when I hear "The Real/True meaning of Christmas" speeches. To me, Christ means "anointed one" in Greek and that might as well be us to each other. Anointing one another with gifts to celebrate our human concern for one another, our glorious life in this wondrous Universe.
Rather than being mundane, I feel my view of the Holiday sees the wonder of life in its true stature as being what it is. Though I will not tell you mine is the "True Meaning" because I still think people have a right to be into and believe what works for them, so long as they don't try to impose their dream world on me with laws or force.
I guess I am kind of Japanese about Christmas now. Quaintness, electronic gadgets (haha), wonder, gifts, joy and pleasure of being alive are what I celebrate. Yet unknown wonders still exist and I allow myself to hope for great things at this time of year.
Have happy holidays, a Merry Christmas (or whatever adjective you prefer) or whatever you wish to celebrate! Like it or not, we all share the human condition and that is cause to rejoice, even if your nearest Angel is a Heavenly Hostess.