So, a friend of mine recently journaled about his dislike of people's behaviors during the holiday season. With respect to him, I took some issue with part of his comments, which essentially indicated that Christmas would be great, except for the Christians, who had usurped the season from the older pagan traditions.
I don't know if I consider myself a Christian any more. I sometimes jokingly refer to myself as a Christo-Pagan, since I think both sides of that pairing have valid and interesting things to say. I do feel the desire, however, to put my point of view up for folks to ponder. It appears here in a slightly edited format.
At the risk of creating some religious drama, Christians originally celebrated Christmas around this time anyway, because, under Roman rule, they were being killed. They hid their celebrations amidst the existing Roman celebration of Saturnalia, or December 17.
Then, many years later, they found it a lot easier to get other religions to accept Christianity if they wrapped Christ in with the current celebrations, so they moved it a week or so later to more closely coincide with Yule and Solis Invictus, because they likened Christ's rebirth to the rebirth of the sun.
You can demonize Christianity if you want, or label it as "sinister", but I've known just as many obnoxious Pagans, Jews, Atheists, and Scientologists as I have Christians. Frankly, when anyone gets smug about their religion, or lack of it, it can be rather off-putting.
I personally feel that you get out of this time of year, shopping and all, what you put into it. If you go shopping dreading it, then you're going to have a lousy time of it. If you go out in a good mood, then you might just be fine. I was out Christmas shopping for about five hours this past weekend. I was in a good mood, and nothing bad or obnoxious happened in my vicinity. Go fig.
And if you don't want to brave the crowds, there's always Amazon. ;)