This past December 5th, my lovely sister Melissa turned 32 (this is the one month out of the year we're just a year apart) and good amigo Cameron F turned 33!
At my company's Christmas ("Holiday") party, on Friday, Lovely Ivy spoke with one of the many Dutch guys who work with me. He described how the Dutch celebrate Christmas differently than the Americans (and presumably the British) do. I think the Dutch model has a lot of advantages for good reasons. Over there in The Netherlands, their Santa Claus equivalent comes and brings gifts for the family and friends sometime during the first week of December. Then, on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, no presents are exchanged because that's all been taken care of already. What is great about this is that you don't focus on the materialistic aspects of what should be a family-centered spiritual holiday and so instead a family can better emphasize what's truly important--very similar to how Thanksgiving works in the U.S. Ivy and I both like their approach much better. We suspect that the retailers might have pushed for the gift exchange to happen as late in the year as possible to pump up annual sales results!?... Anyway, we may go the Dutch Christmas route with our own kids someday. (An added benefit of the Dutch approach is that everyone gets to open their presents earlier than everyone else!... Or--to rid Christmas of its materialism as much as possible--maybe we should ban all gift-giving entirely in our family? Nah--all in all, we should just go Dutch.)