Sure, there other things to think about when it comes to the holidays. It’s not just about the presents under the tree on December 25th. Cutting down the Christmas tree together is my favorite holiday tradition. I love singing the carols and hanging the lights.

Sure, we enjoy giving out presents, but Christmas is really a month-long event. This weekend, I spent an entire day with my mother and sisters-in-law baking cookies. We made hundreds of cookies by hand, decorated them, and packaged them in festive little containers. It was a long day of hard work, but it was also so much fun. The kids all played together and tried to sneak bites of cookies. They helped decorate the sugar cookies with way too many sprinkles. It was just one day in the lead-up to Christmas, a day that has nothing to do with presents, that makes the whole season wonderful.

Next weekend, we have gingerbread decorating coming up. But you know what else happens on that day? One of my sisters-in-law gives out all of her gifts to the kids. It’s her own special day. Last year, she wrote and illustrated a story to go along with all of the gifts and read it to the children. Every kid’s gift had a theme. She put some much effort and love into that day and her gifts for the kids.

There are lots of wonderful holiday traditions. But exchanging gifts doesn’t somehow taint the festivities with materialism. It’s a single aspect that can have a lot of meaning if you choose it. It’s a part of the holiday, but it’s a part that I really enjoy.

I’m not Santa Claus, but I understand his shtick. Giving away presents is great. Seeing the joy and excitement on a family member’s face when they open the perfect present is one of my favorite parts of the year. So maybe I don’t belong in Whoville, but I still think that I can have a meaningful Christmas, even with my presents.