In this time of excess, it is important to remember that this is a time of change. Before the birth of Christ, before Judaism, and before any trace of organized religion, this time of year was dedicated to the coming change. It was the ceremonial death of the Holly King, the representation of winter, and the birth of the Oak King, the representation of summer. More than that it was the celebration of the strength that would be required to withstand the coming harsh winter months. It was a time to see forward and look to the next season with hope.
We maintain a simple tradition on the Winter Solstice. We pour a glass of red wine and sit in a sacred circle. Each person names one thing from the last year that they will leave behind, one trait or hinderance; then they raise the glass and name one thing they will bring into the next year to make a positive change. Then they drink and pass the glass. Once that is complete, each person gets one present. It is not a present they necessarily want, but one that the family sees is needed to help the person grow. For example, one year my middle son got a diabetic supply holder that was more compact and looked more like a CD case so he could go out with his friends without looking like he had diabetes. My youngest son, who is dislexic, got a book that he did not have to read cover to cover, but one that gave him guides to controlling his own gifts. It was arranged in a way that he could look up specific things and read one or two pages on it instead of having to negotiate an entire book. (he is also impatient)
That year our oldest son got the greatest gift for himself that anyone ever granted. The month before Solstice, he found his grandfather dead at home. He had found his mother dead at home just two years earlier. (that is when he became our son) Our gift to him that year was to stay with us as long as he wanted, no questions, no rent, just love and understanding. I know this doesn't seem like much, but at the time we were living in a two bedroom/one bath 500 sq. foot apartment. We already had only a couch and two mattresses (one for the boys and one for us). We couldn't afford to eat, so we spent a lot of time at missions and food pantries.
We have celebrated this way since the boys came into manhood. It is a wonderful tradition that is simple and requires very little. It also leaves Christmas open for the grandparents. We bake Jesus a birthday cake every year and usually just drive around and see if anyone needs anything we may have to give.
So Celebrate, but remember it isn't about stuff, it is about love.